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THE INTIMACY OF PAUL TO THE THESSALONIANS IN 1Thess.

2: 7b-
12
1
Sotirios Despotis

Introduction
On the parent-child metaphors/εἰκόνες2 in 1 Thess. with which Paul seeks to bind his "children" to
himself in a special way, focus two studies: (a) T.J. Burke in his A Socio-Historical Study of Kinship
Metaphors in 1 Thessalonians, London 2003 investigates the role of the parents in the graeco-roman
literature and accordingly in the oldest epistle of Paul3. (b) Christine Gerber in her Paulus und seine
'Kinder'. Studien zur Beziehungsmetaphorik der paulinischen Briefe (20054) dedicates the chapter 6 to
Paulus als Vater und Mutter einer neuen Familie (1 Thes. 2, 7-12. 17-20). Die Bedeutung der Missionare für
die Gemeinde von Thessalinoch in der Konstruktion des Briefes5.

In this exposition I will examine (1) the structure of the Section 2:7b-13 and the rhetoric strategy of
Paul, (2) the meaning and the purpose of the comparison of the apostle with nurse and father, (3) the
behavior of the itinerant philosophers in the graeco-roman world, (4) his intimacy with
Thessalonians in the Makrotext of the epistle and (5) the reasons for this behavior.

1. Section 2:7b-13
The first part of the 1 Thes. (ch. 1-3)6 is divided into two sections: in the first the crucial time of the
election (1:8) is recalled, in which the receivers were initiated into Christianity from Paul and his

1 Sotiris Despotis was born in Athens in 1968. He studied Theology at the university of Athens. After his postgraduate in
Germany (Mainz), he was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy. The title of his doctoral thesis was The Heavenly Worship in
John’s Revelation, Chapters 4-5. In 2009 he was elected as Associate Prof. of the Department of Social Theology of Athens
University. His object of research is the Interpretation of New Testament.
2
According to Aristoteles ἔστιν δὲ καὶ ἡ εἰκὼν μεταφορά· διαφέρει γὰρ μικρόν· ὅταν μὲν γὰρ εἴπῃ «[τὸν Ἀχιλλέα] ὡς δὲ
λέων ἐπόρουσεν»͵ εἰκών ἐστιν͵ ὅταν δὲ «λέων ἐπόρουσε»͵ μεταφορά· διὰ γὰρ τὸ ἄμφω ἀνδρείους εἶναι͵ προσηγόρευσεν
μετενέγκας λέοντα τὸν Ἀχιλλέα. χρήσιμον δὲ ἡ εἰκὼν καὶ ἐν λόγῳ͵ ὀλιγάκις δέ· ποιητικὸν γάρ. (Rhet 1406b.20-26.
comp.Poet. 21). One of the examples refers to the nurse: καὶ ὡς Δημοκράτης εἴκασεν τοὺς ῥήτορας ταῖς τίτθαις αἳ τὸ
ψώμισμα καταπίνουσαι τῷ σιάλῳ τὰ παιδία παραλείφουσιν (1407a.8-10).
3 As Burke states, the father-son relationship obeys to the hierarchy- pyramid reason which portrays the first as the object

of obedience and imitation by the second. The father offered love and teaching although there was a distinction between
the tenderness of the nurse and fatherly love. See also Paul's Role as 'Father' to his Corinthian 'Children' in Socio-Historical
Context (1 Cor. 4:14-21). Paul and the Corinthians: Studies on a Community in Conflict. Essays in Honour of Margaret Thrall.
Supplements to Novum Testamentum, (ed. Trevor J. Burke and J. Keith Elliott). Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2003
95-113 - Adopted into God's Family: Exploring a Pauline Metaphor. New Studies in Biblical Theology 22. Downers Grove:
InterVarsity Press, 2006.-Adopted as Sons: The Missing Piece in Pauline Soteriology.
4 Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft - BZNW 136 Berlin-New York: Walter de Gruyter. The

history of exegesis possibly starts with F. Zimmer,I Thess. 2, 3–8 erklärt.Theologische Studien Herrn … Professor D. Bernard
Weiss zu seinem 70. Geburtstage dargebracht. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1897, 248–273. In the greek bibliography
see N. Louvaris, Το Θεσσαλονικέων Α’ 2,1-16 (Ερμηνευτικόν Υπόμνημα), Γρ. Παλ 9 (1925) 72-84. 97-110. 395-406. E.
Adamitzoglou, Η περιεκτική γλώσσα και οι συμβολισμοί του αποστολικού έργου. Μια γυναικεία ερμηνευτική
θεώρηση των στίχ. Α' Θεσ 2, 8.11.17, Καιρός. Τόμος τιμητικός στον ομότιμο καθηγητή Δ. Δόϊκο, Α', ΕΕΘΣΘ 4 (1994) 43-
59. Μ. Koutita-Kaimaki, Οι όροι συγγένειας στις επιστολές του Αποστόλου Παύλου. Πρακτικά Διεθνούς
Επιστημονικού Συνεδρίου. Η Οικογένεια: Παύλεια Θεολογία και Σύγχρονη Θεώρηση (Βέροια 25-28 Ιουνίου), Βeroia 2009
167-188. For Paul as instructor-paidagogos see A. Bitaskis, Η Διαπαιδαγώγηση του Ανθρώπου κατά τον Απόστολο Παύλο,
Diss. Αthens 2005.
5
From the history of exegesis (p. 36-8) it is distinguished B.R. Gaventa, Apostles as Babes and Nurses in 1 Thessalonians
2:7, Faith and History (FS P.W. Meyer) J.T. Carol … (ed.), Atlanta 1990 193-207.
6 The second part is exhortation and is divided in sections which start with Περί-But concerning (4:9.13; 5:1).

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associates (1:4-2:13)7 and in the second what has happened from the past to the present (2:14-3:13)8.
Paul uses domestic pictures like that of the nurse and the father in the third subunit of the first
section, which (section) has the following structure:

1. 1: 4-8: God’s election and dynamic influence of the Pauline word. The audience’s ethos (captatio
benevolentiae9).
2. 1: 9-10: Content of the Gospel (Return to the living and true God + Second Coming of his Son
whom He raised from the dead - Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath).
3. 2: 1-13: Preacher’s ethos. In this subunit Paul follows the chiastic structure:

A. 2:1 THE MOMENT OF THE CONVERSION Αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴδατε, ἀδελφοί, τὴν εἴσοδον ἡμῶν τὴν πρὸς ὑμᾶς ὅτι οὐ κενὴ
γέγονεν, 2ἀλλὰ προπαθόντες καὶ ὑβρισθέντες, καθὼς οἴδατε ἐν Φιλίπποις, ἐπαρρησιασάμεθα ἐν τῷ Θεῷ ἡμῶν
λαλῆσαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐν πολλῷ ἀγῶνι.

Β. “VERBAL TRANSMISSION” – CHARACTERISTICS OF PARACLESIS 3Ἡ γὰρ παράκλησις ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐκ


πλάνης οὐδὲ ἐξ ἀκαθαρσίας οὐδὲ ἐν δόλῳ,

C. BEHAVIOR OF THE APOSTLES 4 ἀλλὰ καθὼς δεδοκιμάσμεθα ὑπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ πιστευθῆναι τὸ
Εὐαγγέλιον, οὕτως λαλοῦμεν, οὐχ ὡς ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκοντες ἀλλὰ Θεῷ τῷ δοκιμάζοντι τὰς καρδίας
ἡμῶν. 5Οὔτε γάρ ποτε ἐν λόγῳ κολακείας ἐγενήθημεν, καθὼς οἴδατε, οὔτε ἐν προφάσει πλεονεξίας,
Θεὸς μάρτυς, 6οὔτε ζητοῦντες ἐξ ἀνθρώπων δόξαν οὔτε ἀφ᾽ ὑμῶν οὔτε ἀπ᾽ ἄλλων, 7δυνάμενοι ἐν
βάρει εἶναι ὡς Χριστοῦ ἀπόστολοι.

D. TRANSMISSION OF LIFE Ἀλλὰ ἐγενήθημεν (ν)ήπιοι ἐν μέσῳ ὑμῶν, ὡς ἐὰν τροφὸς θάλπῃ
τὰ ἑαυτῆς τέκνα. 8Oὕτως ὁμειρόμενοι ὑμῶν, εὐδοκοῦμεν μεταδοῦναι ὑμῖν οὐ μόνον τὸ
εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Θεοῦ ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰς ἑαυτῶν ψυχάς, διότι ἀγαπητοὶ ἡμῖν ἐγενήθητε.

C’΄. BEHAVIOR OF THE APOSTLES 9Μνημονεύετε γάρ, ἀδελφοί, τὸν κόπον ἡμῶν καὶ τὸν μόχθον·
νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας ἐργαζόμενοι πρὸς τὸ μὴ ἐπιβαρῆσαί τινα ὑμῶν ἐκηρύξαμεν εἰς ὑμᾶς τὸ
εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Θεοῦ.

Β΄. “VERBAL TRANSMISSION” – CHARACTERISTICS OF PARACLESIS 10ὑμεῖς μάρτυρες καὶ ὁ Θεός, ὡς ὁσίως
καὶ δικαίως καὶ ἀμέμπτως ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν ἐγενήθημεν, 11καθάπερ οἴδατε, ὡς ἕνα ἕκαστον ὑμῶν ὡς
πατὴρ τέκνα ἑαυτοῦ 12παρακαλοῦντες ὑμᾶς καὶ παραμυθούμενοι καὶ μαρτυρόμενοι εἰς τὸ περιπατεῖν ὑμᾶς
ἀξίως τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ καλοῦντος ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ βασιλείαν καὶ δόξαν.

Α΄. THE MOMENT OF THE CONVERSION 13 Καὶ διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡμεῖς εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ Θεῷ ἀδιαλείπτως, ὅτι
παραλαβόντες λόγον ἀκοῆς παρ᾽ ἡμῶν τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐδέξασθε οὐ λόγον ἀνθρώπων ἀλλὰ καθώς ἐστιν ἀληθῶς λόγον Θεοῦ,
ὃς καὶ ἐνεργεῖται ἐν ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν10.

7 Reminding the former-beginning status of the audience is a standard practice in Pauline epistles so as to correct their
beliefs and practices and also to remind them of his apostolic stature. Oddly enough it is not mentioned the baptism as
happens with the eucharist too.
8 This succession of the time is combined with motion in the field of the space: 9αὐτοὶ γὰρ περὶ ἡμῶν ἀπαγγέλλουσιν

ὁποίαν εἴσοδον ἔσχομεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, καὶ πῶς ἐπεστρέψατε πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων, δουλεύειν Θεῷ ζῶντι καὶ
ἀληθινῷ 10καὶ ἀναμένειν τὸν Υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν, ὃν ἤγειρεν ἐκ [τῶν] νεκρῶν (1:9-10). The result of this
ἐπιστροφή and the equivalent περίπατος (4:1) are described in the precedent vers: ἀφ᾽ ὑμῶν γὰρ ἐξήχηται ὁ λόγος τοῦ
Kυρίου οὐ μόνον ἐν τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ καὶ [ἐν τῇ] Ἀχαΐᾳ, ἀλλ᾽ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν ἡ πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν ἐξελήλυθεν,
ὥστε μὴ χρείαν ἔχειν ἡμᾶς λαλεῖν τι (1:8). In the chap. 3 the motion refers to the effort of the apostle to bridge the
distance between him and the Thessalonians.
9
From the 3:10 we conclude that the pistis of the receivers wasn’t so perfect as it supposed in the 1:3.
10 With A’ he recalls simultaneously the initial praise of his work (1:2) in which he mentions the work of faith through love

(τοῦ ἔργου τῆς πίστεως καὶ τοῦ κόπου τῆς ἀγάπης vgl. Gal. 5:6) followed by its dispersal. Now in this second mention he
speaks of the work of God’s word within the audience, as they received God’s word from us (Paul and associates)- παρ᾽ ἡμῶν του
Θεού. The word of God works within those who continue to believe (not just those who believed) to which the writer
refers in plural (in you).

2
The first conclusion is that the image of the nurse who cares for her own children constitutes the heart
of the third subunit which is as well located in the core of the first section of the entire epistle. This
part, distinguished for its well done chiastic structure, exposes the status and personal ethos of the
apostles towards the Thessalonians from the beginning until that time. The question is why Paul
projects by this way his ethos and the one of the Gospel. The answer is essential to decode the
meaning and the intention of the metaphers: From the epilogue of the first section and principally of
the one of the entire epistle, we conclude that one of the main targets of the 1 Thes. is the following:
all11 the brothers and sisters Thessalonians to be wholly sanctified and their spirit (higher mental
functions), soul (lower mental functions)12 and body preserved blameless at the coming of the Lord
Jesus Christ with all his saints. This goal however presupposes trust in the word of Paul and
fides/fidelity to his person and his motives. The confidence by the Thessalonians in him and his
word is according to 3:6 high. For some ὀλιγοψύχους (feebleminded 5:14) however the trust must had
been shaken through the afflictions, his bodily absence, the delay of the Parousia, the death of some
brothers etc. For this reason it is important for him to strengthen first the bond between him and his
entire audience and then to start the exhortating part with Λοιπὸν οὖν, ἀδελφοί, ἐρωτῶμεν ὑμᾶς καὶ
παρακαλοῦμεν ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ, ἵνα καθὼς παρελάβετε παρ᾽ ἡμῶν τὸ πῶς δεῖ ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν καὶ ἀρέσκειν
Θεῷ, καθὼς καὶ περιπατεῖτε, ἵνα περισσεύητε μᾶλλον (4:1)13. This is why Paul follows the strategy of
deliberative rhetoric14 with elements of the epideictic one. He (1) uses captatio benevolentiae, (2)
remindes the Gospel and its energy and (3) emphasizes the ethos of him (the sender) and his Gospel
using as core the Verses v. 7b-8 where he proclaims his maternal feelings!

The abovementioned conclusions are strengthened by the linguistic-syntactic analysis of the entire
first section (1:4-2:13):
1. The emphasis to the drastic action (power and energy) of the verbal message of the apostles
despite the θλίψεις is proved by the frequent use of the following words: (i) the
gospel/ευαγγέλιον (2:4) solely/ ἡμῶν-our (1:4)/ τοῦ Θεοῦ-of God (2:2) which is object of
λαλεῖν/κηρύττειν and the consequence of παρρησιάζεσθαι ἐν τῷ Θεῷ, (ii) the word -
λόγος solely (1:6)/of the Lord (2:8) and (iii) Παράκλησις (2:3) as comfort (apparently because it
rescues from the wrath) and exhortation15. If the meaning of the Gospel is so important, the
question16 is why then Paul in v. 7b-8 desires to transmit not only this but also his psyche to

11 As the Apostle emphatically states at the end of the epistle, this letter must be read to all the holy brethren.
12 F.F. Bruce: 1 and 2 Thessalonians (electronic ed.).Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 45: Logos Library System; Word Biblical
Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, ad loc.
13
We should underline that a lot of the subjects that Paul ascribes to himself are later advised in the exhortating section:
action not out of uncleanness, work and pray night and day, love of the brothers, dearly praying without ceasing and
rejoicing in spite of the persecutions.
14
From the abovementioned I believe that the main scopus of the epistle is paraenetic and refers to the future (Second
Parousia), elements which are the characteristics of deliberative genus. According to Aristoteles in this genus the Orator
must defend his ethos which also happens with Paul in 1 Thes.: κρίσεώς ἐστιν ἡ ῥητορική (καὶ γὰρ τὰς συμβουλὰς
κρίνουσι καὶ ἡ δίκη κρίσις ἐστίν)͵ ἀνάγκη μὴ μόνον πρὸς τὸν λόγον ὁρᾶν͵ ὅπως ἀποδεικτικὸς ἔσται καὶ πιστός͵ ἀλλὰ καὶ
αὑτὸν ποιόν τινα καὶ τὸν κριτὴν κατασκευάζειν· πολὺ γὰρ διαφέρει πρὸς πίστιν͵ μάλιστα μὲν ἐν ταῖς συμβουλαῖς͵ εἶτα
καὶ ἐν ταῖς δίκαις͵ τό τε ποιόν τινα φαίνεσθαι τὸν λέγοντα καὶ τὸ πρὸς αὑτοὺς ὑπολαμβάνειν πως διακεῖσθαι αὐτόν͵
πρὸς δὲ τούτοις ἐὰν καὶ αὐτοὶ διακείμενοί πως τυγχάνωσιν. τὸ μὲν οὖν ποιόν τινα φαίνεσθαι τὸν λέγοντα
χρησιμώτερον εἰς τὰς συμβουλάς ἐστιν͵ τὸ δὲ διακεῖσθαί πως τὸν ἀκροατὴν εἰς τὰς δίκας· οὐ γὰρ ταὐτὰ φαίνεται
φιλοῦσι καὶ μισοῦσιν͵ οὐδ΄ ὀργιζομένοις καὶ πράως ἔχουσιν͵ ἀλλ΄ ἢ τὸ παράπαν ἕτερα ἢ κατὰ μέγεθος ἕτερα· τῷ μὲν γὰρ
φιλοῦντι περὶ οὗ ποιεῖται τὴν κρίσιν ἢ οὐκ ἀδικεῖν ἢ μικρὰ δοκεῖ ἀδικεῖν͵ τῷ δὲ μισοῦντι τοὐναντίον· καὶ τῷ μὲν
ἐπιθυμοῦντι καὶ εὐέλπιδι ὄντι͵ ἐὰν ᾖ τὸ ἐσόμενον ἡδύ͵ καὶ ἔσεσθαι καὶ ἀγαθὸν ἔσεσθαι φαίνεται͵ τῷ δ΄ ἀπαθεῖ ἢ καὶ
δυσχεραίνοντι τοὐναντίον (Rhet 1377b.21 -1378a.5).
15
This is transcribed in 2:11-12 like this: as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father
does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God. The same kind of words he uses at the beginning of the exhortation:
Λοιπόν […] We should note that the Gospel- εὐαγγέλιον is not used as terminus technicus, but he uses it literally as the use
of the verb εὐαγγελίσασθαι-bring good news/ evangelize (3:6) proves.
16
See Gerber, Paulus und seine 'Kinder' 277.

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the recipients. Is the Gospel not sufficient to strengthen the brothers and sisters at
Thessaloniki in the present? The core of Pauls’ argumentation about his ethos, however,
refers not only to the past but to the present and the future as well17. The same verb
μεταδοῦναι is used by him in Rom. 1:11 where he expresses the same wish for
communication face to face. The object, however, is the χάρισμα because the receivers aren’t
familiar with him. Therefore by the verses 1 Thes. 2:7b-8 he doesn’t relativiert the value of
his Gospel but (a) he expresses his extreme love which isn’ t limited in the orally teaching
(which suits to an apostle of a Kyrios who has died for us 5:10) and (b) he prepares his
audience for the following section of his epistle which expresses his desire for personal
communication. In any case the inhalt both of the pauline Gospel and the psyche was the
same: Jesus Christ and his Spirit.
2. Frequent is also the use of the lexems οἴδατε-know18 and γίνεσθαι (1:5-7 [3Χ]; 2:1.5.7.8.10.14)
in the past tense. The first verb has as subject the ὑμεῖς/you and the second apart from four
times (1:6-7; 2:8.14)19 the apostles and the characteristics of their preaching as they appeared
during their first entry (είσοδος 2Χ) in the city. Therefore as witnesses to testify the
allegations of Paul are mentioned not only God (v. 2:5b.10) but also the epistle receivers
themselves, who are named already in 1:4 as ἀδελφοὶ ἠγαπημένοι ὑπὸ [τοῦ] Θεοῦ! (see also
2:1.9.14)20. This means that the author probably defends himself and his word against
derogatory comments and/or accusations which are emanated not from insiders but rather
from outsiders: either from the compatriots of Thessalonians (2:14) or generally from the
Greek environment where Paul declares the gospel of God21. At any case through the
reminding of these πίστεις (proofs/convictions) of the past, he does strengthen the
confidence of these insiders who need encouragement and identity markers. For this reason
he reminds also in the next section that καὶ γὰρ ὅτε πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἦμεν, προελέγομεν ὑμῖν ὅτι
μέλλομεν θλίβεσθαι, καθὼς καὶ ἐγένετο καὶ οἴδατε (3:4). The fulfillment of a prophecy
was a pistis with high importance in ancient rhetoric22.
3. The πίστεις are strengthened by using negative cause + (ἀλλὰ/but)+ thesis + καθώς/as:
a. 1:5: For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also i) in power, and ii) in the Holy Spirit and iii) in
much πληροφορία23, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake
b. 2:1-2: our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But… we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in
much conflict

17 The members of the chiasmus, which refer to the past, run supplementally: B and C express negatively what B’ and C’
declare positively.
18 M. Crusemann, Die pseudepigraphen Briefe an die Gemeinde in Thessaloniki: Studien zu ihrer Abfassung und zur ju disch-

christlichen Sozialgeschichte, Stuttgart 2010, 130-137.


19 The subject in these verses is the Thessalonians and the main motif is the mimesis.
20
Paul doesn’t hesitate to boost the Thessalonians’ self-confidence in 4:9 also with: But concerning brotherly love you have no
need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another and 2αὐτοὶ γὰρ ἀκριβῶς οἴδατε-For you
yourselves know perfectly (5:2). By this way the apostle shows that he faces the recipients not as immature children but
reliable witnesses who remember and know. Maybe Paul feels that their self-confidence is a way of resistance to the
disgrace of their environment.
21 Αbout the “enemies” of Paul in Thessaloniki see J. Galanis, Η Πρώτη Επιστολή του Απ. Παύλου προς Θεσσαλονικείς,

Thessaloniki 1996, 174-175. The Question of the Exegesis remains the following: The discussion has revolved in part around the
question whether vss- 1-12 are to be understood as an apology directed to a concrete situation in Thessalonica in the face of which Paul
had to defend himself, or whether the language that seems to support such a view can be understood in another way. A major statement
in favor of the latter option had been made by VON DOBSCHÜTZ, who claimed that the "apology" reflects the mood of Paul at the time of
writing rather than a strained relationship with the Thessalonians (A.J. Malherbe ‘Gentle as a Nurse’: The Stoic Background to 1
Thess. II. NovT 12 (1970) 203–217. 203).
22
W. Kurz, Hellenistic Rhetoric in the Christological Proof of Luke-Acts, CBQ 42 (1980) 171-195, 187-188.
23 I believe that this doesn’t mean only the assurance (Heb. 10:22) but has also the meaning of the abundance of the fruits of

the Holy Spirit which brings χαρά despite the sorrows. It has to do with the work of faith, labor of love, and endurance of hope
in our Lord Jesus Christ (1:3). By this way the message of God works effectively in you believers (2:1).

4
c. 2:3-8: For our exhortation did not come from i) error or ii) uncleanness, nor was it iii) in deceit. 4But as we have
been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our
hearts.
5 For neither at any time did we i) use flattering words, as you know, nor ii) with a pretext for greed—

God is witness. 6Nor did we iii) seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have
made demands as apostles of Christ. 7But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her
own children. 8So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of
God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.

The use of negative cause differentiate the apostles and their message against the teaching of the
various itinerant philosophers who were passing from Thessaloniki self promoted as doctors of the
souls24: the Gospel of the apostels didn’t come in word only (1:5), the entry of them wasn’t vain (2:1:
κενή25; comp. 3:5) while the Paraclese of theirs didn’t come from i) error ii) uncleanness iii) in deceit. In
2:10 Paul expresses the same things positively: ὡς ὁσίως καὶ δικαίως καὶ ἀμέμπτως ὑμῖν τοῖς
πιστεύουσιν ἐγενήθημεν. With πλάνη/error and ἀκαθαρσία/uncleanness Paul probably means
failure in dogma (doctrine about God) for the first and the interactive failure in ethical conduct for
the second26. With ἐν δόλῳ /In deceit27 he refers to the motive of preaching, that is why it is presented
with ἐν/in. Δόλος28/Deceit is linked with the use of i) flattering words ii) greediness and iii) seeking glory
from men (2:5-6). While λόγος κολακείας29/flattering words is linked to the previous v.4b through
γὰρ/But, the absence of πλεονεξία (something that God is called upon to testify!)30 and of the the
desire of glory are connected with the following phrase: δυνάμενοι ἐν βάρει31 εἶναι ὡς Χριστοῦ
ἀπόστολοι32. Βάρος can mean the financial charge (comp. ἐπιβαρῆσαι of v. 2:9; 2Thes. 3:8) and/or
having honor (2 Cor. 4:17). Both of them were acclaimed not only by the supposedly philosophers
but also by the legati of Caesar who used also the theme of Angaria (compulsory service). The agents
of the Arisen from Hades, who comes as the True Kyrios from Heaven introducing his own
Kingdom-Imperium and glory, could not only be supported by other Christians (as stated in 1 Cor.
9; 2 Cor. 11-12 and Luk. 10:7) but they could also acclaim honor/δόξα.

2. Paul as a beneficent nurse and father


Paul culminates his argumentation with ἀλλὰ ἐγενήθημεν (ν)ήπιοι ἐν μέσῳ ὑμῶν to support that
he selected the completely opposite style of ἐν βάρει εἶναι (which presupposes something/someone
that is above us)!33 The problems with this phrase are the following: a) did the original text have
ήπιος or νήπιος-child according to Nestle Aland’s text and b) ὡς ἐὰν τροφὸς θάλπῃ τὰ ἑαυτῆς
τέκνα should be connected with v. 7b34 or v. 835 as Nestle Aland’s text suggests contrary to its own
previous edition?

24 The expression comes from Leveque: «Un médecin de l’ âme chez les Grecs", Revue des Deux Mondes, 1867, 725.
25 About the meaning of κενός see Gerber, Paulus und seine 'Kinder' 271 Αnm. 81
26 As it is showed in Rom. 1-2 (also see Sap. 13-15) for him these two are interacted.

27 Αt this point in the Greek text the writer might be engaging in a wordplay between λόγος and δόλος κολακείας.

28 < indogerm. del= intent

29 It is related with κηλέω =bewitch, fascinate / κέλλω=motivate, encourage.

30 < προφαίνω = bring in the light, appear, obvious motiv.


31
Τhe consonants δ and β transmit also soundly the elements of δύναμις, βοή, βία. See Stamos Karamouzis, Το θείον και
ιερόν Αλφάβητον, Athens 2001 264. 282.
32 The term βάρος/burden connected to demands as apostles of Christ can refer to glory but also to the financial burden of their

support. V.9 states clearly that the term βάρος-demands in δυνάμενοι ἐν βάρει εἶναι ὡς Χριστοῦ ἀπόστολοι- we might have
made demands as apostles of Christ mean the burden of their financial support.
33 We have already seen that v. 2:7b-8 constitute the heart of the argumentation in the entire 2:1-13.

34Ἀλλὰ ἐγενήθημεν νήπιοι ἐν μέσῳ ὑμῶν ὡς ἐὰν τροφὸς θάλπῃ τὰ ἑαυτῆς τέκνα. Vulgata: sed facti sumus lenes in medio

vestrum tamquam si nutrix foveat filios suos. MGI (=Peschita Translation by Janet Magiera 2006): 7But we were meek among you,
and as a nurse who loves her children. Luther 45: sondern wir sind mütterlich gewesen bei euch, gleichwie eine Amme ihrer Kinder
pfleget. The translations come from Bibleworks 7. ΕΒΕ (= Ελληνική Βιβλική Εταιρεία/Greek Bible Society 1997): Γιατί δε
σας κολακέψαμε ποτέ, όπως ξέρετε, ούτε ήρθαμε με προσχήματα για να κερδίσουμε κάτι -μαρτυράς μας ο Θεός. 6Δε
5
Child-νήπιος36 means ἀνώριμος-immature, ἄφρων37-imbecile while ἤπιος (< ancient Hindu api-friend)
is the meek, the content and the good willed38. The form νήπιος39 is the oldest one yet not the most
difficult as we will explain further. Maybe the reason for its establishment is not just Dittography
but also the following influence of the synoptic tradition which is visible also in 5:2-340:

1. The child version in conjunction with the demand for glory, recalls to the copyists the answer of Jesus in
Mark 9:33-37 (= Mt. 18:1-5; Lk. 9:46-48; John 3:3.5; 13:20) on the way to Passion: 33Then He came to Capernaum.
And when He was in the house He asked them, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?” 34 But they
kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. 35 And He sat down, called the
twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then He took a
little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, 37 “Whoever
receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent
Me. » A child is presented as the model for the apostles, one being that by society standards and Jewish Law,
is meaningless, immature and imbecile. Paul did the same with his own disciples41.

ζητήσαμε ανθρώπινη δόξα ούτε από σας ούτε από άλλους, 7αν και μπορούσαμε να σας επιβαρύνουμε ως απόστολοι του
Χριστού. Απεναντίας ήμασταν στοργικοί σαν τη μητέρα που φροντίζει τα παιδιά της. 8Και ήταν τόση η έγνοια μας για
σας, ώστε ήμασταν έτοιμοι να σας δώσουμε όχι μόνο το ευαγγέλιο του Θεού, αλλά και την ίδια μας τη ζωή, επειδή σας
αγαπήσαμε.
35 Ὡς ἐὰν τροφὸς θάλπῃ τὰ ἑαυτῆς τέκνα, 8οὕτως ὁμειρόμενοι ὑμῶν εὐδοκοῦμεν μεταδοῦναι ὑμῖν οὐ μόνον τὸ εὐαγγέλιον

τοῦ θεοῦ ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰς ἑαυτῶν ψυχάς, διότι ἀγαπητοὶ ἡμῖν ἐγενήθητε..
36 According to G. Babiniotis (Λεξικό της Νέας Ελληνικής Γλώσσας, Athens 22005, 1193) the etymology of Hesychius νε-

έπιος < νε+-έπος = who can’t speak normally (νηπύτιος) but also the connection with ἠπύω= call, isn’t supported by
strong arguments. Clement of Alexandria, Παιδαγωγός 1.5.19 makes a false etymology too, possibly in his struggle against
those who mocked Christians as foolish: Ἐνταῦθα ἐπιστῆσαι δίκαιον τῇ προσηγορίᾳ τοῦ νηπίου͵ ὅτι οὐκ ἐπὶ ἀφρόνων
τάττεται τὸ νήπιον· νηπύτιος μὲν γὰρ οὗτος͵ νήπιος δὲ ὁ νεήπιος͵ ὡς ἤπιος ὁ ἁπαλόφρων͵ οἷον ἤπιος νεωστὶ καὶ πρᾶος
τῷ τρόπῳ γενόμενος. Τοῦτό τοι σαφέστατα ὁ μακάριος Παῦλος ὑπεσημήνατο εἰπὼν «δυνάμενοι ἐν βάρει εἶναι ὡς
Χριστοῦ ἀπόστολοι ἐγενήθημεν ἤπιοι ἐν μέσῳ ὑμῶν͵ ὡς ἂν τροφὸς θάλπῃ τὰ ἑαυτῆς τέκνα». ῎Ηπιος οὖν ὁ νήπιος καὶ
ταύτῃ μᾶλλον ἀταλός͵ ἁπαλὸς καὶ ἁπλοῦς καὶ ἄδολος καὶ ἀνυπόκριτος͵ ἰθὺς τὴν γνώμην καὶ ὀρθός· τὸ δέ ἐστιν
ἁπλότητος καὶ ἀληθείας ὑπόστασις. «Ἐπὶ τίνα γάρ͵ φησίν͵ ἐπιβλέψω ἢ ἐπὶ τὸν πρᾶον καὶ ἡσύχιον;» (Jes. 66:2). Τοιοῦτος
γὰρ ὁ παρθένιος λόγος͵ ἁπαλὸς καὶ ἄπλαστος· διὸ καὶ τὴν παρθένον ἀταλὴν νύμφην καὶ τὸν παῖδα ἀταλάφρονα
κεκλῆσθαι ἔθος͵ ἀταλοὶ δὲ ἡμεῖς οἱ ἁπαλοὶ πρὸς πειθὼ καὶ εὐέργαστοι πρὸς ἀγαθωσύνην ἄχολοί τε καὶ ἀνεπίμικτοι
κακοφροσύνῃ καὶ σκολιότητι .Also the etymology is unknown.
37 As we see in Luke. 10:21 child-νήπιος is used opposite to wise/intelligent, while in Rom. 2:10 the word is used for

proselytes. In Gal. 4: 1-3 and Eph. 4: 14 the author calls the receivers juveniles and the Corinthians (1 Cor. 3:1 see also Heb.
5:12-14) as well during their early days as Christians especially since they were quarreling: And I, brethren, could not speak to
you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were
not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3or you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among
you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? Even to this day the young Christian is a juvenile in mind by standards of
faith: When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish
things (1 Cor. 13:11). Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature (1
Cor. 14: 20). In any occasion the word child is connected to the lack of knowledge.
38 See Henry George Liddell - Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/

text?doc=Perseus:text: 1999.04.0057, ad loc.


39 There is a strongly attested variant νήπιοι (“infants”) read by P65 ‫ *א‬B C* D* F G I Ψ* pc latvet vg.ww copsa.cod bo Clem.Al. The

reading ἤπιοι (“gentle”) is attested by ‫א‬c A C2 D2 Ψc Βyz latvg.st copsa.codd The variation is due either to haplography or
dittography of ν. It is the sense that is decisive for ἤπιοι, although νήπιοι is preferred by Nestle-Aland26. Crawford retains
νήπιοι but construes it as vocative, addressed to the Thessalonian Christians. C. Crawford, “The ‘Tiny’ Problem of 1
Thessalonians 2, 7: The case of the curious vocative.” Bib 54 (1973) 69–72. See the critic of F.F. Bruce, 1 and 2 Thessalonians
Logos Library System; Word Biblical Commentary (1998). Vol. 45. Dallas: Word, Incorporated. (electronic ed.).
40
See Holtzt, Der erste Brief an die Thessalonicher, 215-219.
41Origenes (Commentarium in evangelium Matthaei lib. 12–17) in his comment on Mt. 18:10 writes: Ἄλλος δ’ ἂν λέγοι μικρὸν

ἐν τούτοις λέγεσθαι τὸν τέλειον συγχρώμενος τῷ «ὁ γὰρ μικρότερος ἐν πᾶσιν ὑμῖν ὑπάρχων, οὗτός ἐστι μέγας», καὶ
φήσει ὅτι ὁ ταπεινῶν ἑαυτὸν καὶ <γινόμενος μιμητὴς τοῦ ἑαυτὸν ταπεινώσαντος ὑπὲρ τῆς τῶν ἀνθρώπων σωτηρίας καὶ>
γινόμενος νήπιος ἐν μέσῳ πάντων <τῶν> πιστευόντων (κἂν ἀπόστολος, κἂν ἐπίσκοπος ᾖ) καὶ γινόμενος τοιοῦτος «ὡς ἂν
τροφὸς θάλπῃ τὰ ἑαυτῆς τέκνα», οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ δεικνύμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ μικρός,καὶ ἄξιόν γε τοῦ τοιούτου ἄγγελον
εἶναι βλέποντα τ ὸ π ρ ό σ ω π ο ν τοῦ θεοῦ. τὸ γὰρ μικροὺς λέγειν ἐνταῦθα τοὺς τελείους κατὰ τὸ «ὁ γὰρ μικρότερος ἐν

6
2. The seventy apostles in Luke 10:21(Q=Mt. 11:25-27) cause rejoice to Jesus who thanks the Father because
contrary to the wise and intelligent they are like infants who receive divine revelations: In that hour Jesus
rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from
the wise and prudent and revealed them to babies. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. Here we have
rejoice, thankfulness and revelation, elements that we also meet in 1 Thess.

Besides, as Paul presents the figure of the father and son (which seems to be implied through the use of
ἀπορφανισθέντες42 -we were made orphans by being separated from you) intertwining to one another, so it is
possible for some copyists that the milk giving nurse/mother43 and child figure also coexist. Then however
before νήπιος-child there should have been ὡς-like, as there is with the nurse and father figure. Moreover as
Caragounis44 proves, the greek ἀπορφανισθέντες- made orphans may not only refer to the loss of parents but
also to that of children.

For the reasons above, we prefer the word ἤπιος which also appears in 2 Tim. 2:24-25 as opposite to
quarrelsome, referring to Christian leaders: And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to
all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them
repentance, so that they may know the truth45. But the term ἤπιος does not have the aforementioned
meaning in our passage since it is used against ambition and greediness46. For this reason I don’t
agree as well with A.J. Malherbe47 who suggests that the ἠπιότης to which the writer appeals here, forms a
designed contrast to the harshness (σκληρότης) characteristic of one type of itinerant Cynic, who could not
distinguish scurrilous reproach (ὀνειδισμός) from admonition (νουθεσία) and had recourse to the former
when the latter was required (Dio, Oratio 32).

To understand the complete meaning of term ήπιος we must investigate its use in Homer where it
refers to the ideal Leader and the effecthistory (Wirkungsgeschichte) of this phrase on the following
literature. Odyssey states: χαίρετον͵ ὦ κούρω͵ καὶ Νέστορι εἰπεῖν· “ἦ γὰρ ἐμοί γε πατὴρ ὣς ἤπιος
ἦεν͵ εἷος ἐνὶ Τροίῃ πολεμίζομεν υἷες Ἀχαιῶν” (= Greetings to you, lads, and tell king Nestor this: he was
like a gentle father to me for as long as we Achaioi-Greeks were fighting in Troy; 15 [ο].151 – 153. see Il.
24.770; Od. 2.47. 234; 5.12). Sthenidas (3 B.C./A.D. 2) in his Περὶ βασιλείας notes about the ideal
king: διὰ τοῦτο γάρ που μάλιστα καὶ νενομίχθαι τὸν πρᾶτον θεὸν πατέρα μὲν θεῶν, πατέρα δὲ
ἀνθρώπων ἦμεν, ὅτι ἤπιος πρὸς πάντα τὰ ὑπ’ αὐτῶ γενόμενα ἐστί, καὶ ἀμελούμενος τὰς
προστασίας οὐδέποκα νοέεται, οὐδὲ ἤρκεσται τῷ ποιητὰς μόνον πάντων γεγονέναι, ἀλλὰ καὶ

πᾶσιν ὑμῖν ὑπάρχων, οὗτός ἐστι μέγας» καὶ ὡς ὁ Παῦλος εἶπεν τὸ «ἐμοὶ τῷ ἐλαχιστοτέρῳ πάντων ἁγίων ἐδόθη ἡ χάρις
αὕτη» δόξει μὴ συνᾴδειν τῷ «ὃς ἂν σκανδαλίσῃ ἕνα τῶν μικρῶν τούτων» καὶ τῷ ο ὕ τ ω ς ο ὐ κ ἔ σ τ ι θ έ λ η μ α
ἔ μ π ρ ο σ θ ε ν τ ο ῦ π α τ ρ ό ς μ ο υ τ ο ῦ ἐ ν ο ὐ ρ α ν ο ῖ ς . See also his comment on 15:7: καὶ Παῦλος δὲ ὡς
ἐπιστάμενος τὸ τ ῶ ν γ ὰ ρ τ ο ι ο ύ τ ω ν ἐ σ τ ὶ ν ἡ β α σ ι λ ε ί α τ ῶ ν ο ὐ ρ α ν ῶ ν , δυνάμενος «ἐν βάρει εἶναι ὡς
Χριστοῦ» ἀπόστολος, ἐγένετο νήπιος καὶ παραπλήσιος τροφῷ θαλπούσῃ τὸ ἑαυ- τῆς παιδίον καὶ λαλούσῃ λόγους ὡς
παιδίον διὰ τὸ παιδίον. In his comment on 16:8 he uses the variant ήπιος. See Galanis, Η Πρώτη Επιστολή του Απ. Παύλου
προς Θεσσαλονικείς 157.
42 ὄρφος= deprived,later blind.

43 A nurse so eager to sacrifice her own life proves that this nurse is also a mother. The same occurred with the Son, the

coming Judge, who died for us according to 5:10.


44 Chrys Caragounis, Did Paul Behave as an Infant or Imbecile, or as a Gentle Nurse? http://www.chrys-
caragounis.com/Studies/Did%20Paul%20Behave.pdf, 17-18.
45 See also Philo, Dec 1:67; Mos. 1:72. Pseudo–Phocylides Gnom., Sententiae 208: Παισὶν μὴ χαλέπαινε τεοῖσ’, ἀλλ’ ἤπιος

εἴης.
46 Πλεονεξία in 1 Thes. doesn’ t declare only the gain derived from financial abuse but from sexual too: τὸ μὴ ὑπερβαίνειν

καὶ πλεονεκτεῖν ἐν τῷ πράγματι τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ (4:6).


47 ‘Gentle as a Nurse’: The Stoic Background to 1 Thess. II. NovT 12 (1970) 203–217. By contrast Crates ἐπετίμα οὐ μετὰ

πικρίας ἀλλὰ μετὰ χάριτος (Plutarch, Quaestiones Conviviales 632E).

7
τροφεὺς διδάσκαλός τε τῶν καλῶν πάντων καὶ νομοθέτας πέφυκε πᾶσιν ἐπίσας (Stob. 4.7.63)48.
Ephstathius of Thessaloniki (c. 1115 – 1195/6) notes in his Υπόμνημα-Commentary to the Odyssey:
Σημείωσαι δὲ εἰς τὸ͵ «πατὴρ ὣς ἤπιος ἦν»͵ καὶ τὸ τοῦ Ἡροδότου͵ τὸ͵ «Καμβύσης μὲν δεσπότης͵
Κύρος δὲ͵ πατήρ»49. ὁ μὲν͵ ὅτι χαλεπὸς ἦν καὶ ὀλίγωρος (= littlecaring, careless). ὁ δὲ͵ ὅτι ἤπιος καὶ
ἀγαθὰ σφίσιν ἐμηχανίσατο͵ ἤτοι τοῖς Πέρσαις (1.81-82. See Procopius, De aedificiis 1.1.27-2 1.1.14.
Themistius, Περί Φιλανθρωπίας 16.a.6 -17.a.7).
From the aforementioned quotes we conclude that ἤπιος stands not only for having or showing a
mild, kind, or tender temperament or character but (as betrays its etymology too) has the
connotation of εὐεργετικός-beneficent (as antonym to πλεονέκτης/εν βάρει είναι)50 too. Possibly
this phrase of Odyssey, which along with Iliad was the most popular reading in Greco-roman
society, had become some kind of motto for the fundamental virtue of the leader: acting like a
benevolent and beneficient father. Clement of Rome remarks: Ὁ οἰκτίρμων κατὰ πάντα καὶ
εὐεργετικὸς Πατὴρ ἔχει σπλάγχνα ἐπὶ τοὺς φοβουμένους αὐτόν ἠπίως τε καὶ προσηνῶς τὰς
χάριτας αὐτοῦ ἀποδιδοῖ τοῖς προσερχομένοις αὐτῷ ἁπλῇ διανοίᾳ (I Cl. 23.1. see Diogn. 7.4).

Paul, the founder and the ‘leader’ of the Thessalonian church, in his most ancient document does
not refer directly to the scriptures (Old Testament) at all but uses familiar to the audience’s ears
terms drawing upon the greek literature such as θάλπω or στέγω (3:1.5) or σαίνεσθαι (3:3). Having
knowledge of the aforementioned motto, he uses it because it also corresponds to the distinctive Old
Testament virtue of the Sheppard, πραότητα51. This virtue (meekness- Πραΰτης ‫`ענָ וָ ה‬anvah)
ֲ which
both Moses (Num. 12:3) and David (Ps. 131:1 Lxx) possessed, doesn’t only signify courteousness in
manners but also humility and charity. Jesus himself fulfilled Zechariah’s prophecy (9:9; Mt.21:5;
John 12:15) about the entrance of the meek king to Jerusalem and blessed the meek as well52. In the
Lxx the term meek stands for the Jewish term Anawim which defines the poor people of God that many
Jewish sects had as model53.

Obviously, Paul associates himself to the Lord as a father figure and feels that he embodies the
virtue of πραΰτης which however ‘translates’ for his greek audience with the word ἤπιος.Yet in this
context he portraits himself as a nurse, not as a father because he wants to present by a unique way
in the ancient literature his extreme love and care in contrast to those who use flattering speech or had
greedy motives or seek glory from people. Instead of using the above motto πατὴρ ὣς ἤπιος ἦεν-a gentle
father he was, he creates a new metaphor: ἤπιος ὡς ἐὰν τροφὸς θάλπῃ τὰ ἑαυτῆς τέκνα- just as a
nursing mother cherishes her own children. He surpasses Mosses who says: μὴ ἐγὼ ἐν γαστρὶ
ἔλαβον πάντα τὸν λαὸν τοῦτον ἢ ἐγὼ ἔτεκον αὐτούς ὅτι λέγεις μοι «Λαβὲ αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν κόλπον
σου ὡσεὶ ἄραι τιθηνὸς (= nurse54; see Is. 49:23) τὸν θηλάζοντα εἰς τὴν γῆν ἣν ὤμοσας τοῖς πατράσιν

48 See also Aelius Aristides, Πρὸς Πλάτωνα περὶ ῥητορικῆς 45.17: κορυφαῖος χοροῦ, ναυτῶν κυβερνήτης, στρατιωτῶν
στρατηγὸς, δήμου ῥήτωρ ἡγεῖται. πάντες μὲν οὖν ἄρχοντες φύσει κρείττους τῶν ὑφ’αὑτοῖς· εἰ δέ τις μετ’ ἐξουσίας καὶ
χαρίζεται, πείθων, οὐκ ἀναγκάζων, καὶ πρὸς τῷ σώζειν τὴν ἑαυτοῦ τάξινστοχάζεται καὶ τῆς ἐπιθυμίας τῶν ὑφ’ αὑτῷ,
οὗτος ἐκεῖνός ἐστιν ὁ τῷ ὄντι πολιτικὸς καὶ ὃν Ὅμηρος ἔφη πατέρα ὣς ἤπιον εἶναι.
49
Herod. 3.89
50 See also Jos. Ap 1:186. Philo, Sac. 1:27.According to Dio, Or. 32, 10.5-9 εἰ δ΄ ὡς φιλόσοφοι ταῦτα πράττουσι κέρδους

ἕνεκεν καὶ δόξης τῆς ἑαυτῶν͵ οὐ τῆς ὑμετέρας ὠφελείας͵ τοῦτο δ΄ ἤδη δεινόν. ὅμοιον γὰρ ὥσπερ εἴ τις ἰατρὸς ἐπὶ κάμνον
τας ἀνθρώπους εἰσιὼν τῆς μὲν σωτηρίας αὐτῶν καὶ τῆς θεραπείας ἀμελήσειε͵ στεφάνους δὲ καὶ ἑταίρας καὶ μύρον
αὐτοῖς εἰσφέροι.
51 In Esther the two terms interchange: ἐβουλήθην μὴ τῷ θράσει τῆς ἐξουσίας ἐπαιρόμενος, ἐπιεικέστερον δὲ καὶ μετὰ

ἠπιότητος (πραότητος S3) ἀεὶ διεξάγων τοὺς τῶν ὑποτεταγμένων ἀκυμάτους διὰ παντὸς καταστῆσαι βίους (3:13) καὶ
μετέβαλεν ὁ Θεὸς τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ βασιλέως εἰς πραΰτητα καὶ ἀγωνιάσας ἀνεπήδησεν ἀπὸ τοῦ θρόνου αὐτοῦ καὶ
ἀνέλαβεν αὐτὴν ἐπὶ τὰς ἀγκάλας αὐτοῦ (5: 1 Lxx).
52“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matt. 5: 5 Psalm 36 [37]: 11). See also Matt. 11: 29-30.

53 Num.12:3; Is. 26:6.; Jo. 4:11; Soph. 3:12; Zach. 9:9; πραΰθυμος Prov. 14:30; 16:19; Πραΰτης Ps. 44:5; 89:10. 131:1;. E st.
5:1; Sir. 1:27.
54 In 2 Κgs 10:1 τιθηνός is the foster-father.

8
αὐτῶν»- Did I conceive this entire people? Did I give birth to them, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in
your bosom, as a nurse carries a sucking child, to the land that you promised on oath to their ancestors?’
(Num. 11:1255). At the same time he imitates God, who in Isaiah 49:14-16 (a chapter that has deeply
affected Paul’s psychology. Gal. 1:15) presents himself as a nursing woman who doesn’t forget her
child and saves Israel with her compassion.

What is strange is the fact that Paul feels nursing love not for the chosen people of Israel (who
accuses with hard words in the next paragraph) but for the Gentiles who now populate the Church
and are carried by the Apostle to the Imperium of God the Father. He acts as a τροφός-nurse who
θάλπει– cares especially for her own children56. I believe that he uses the word τροφός57 and not
μητέρα58 because the emphasis in this context is not on the birth59 but on the Gospel which didn’t
come ἐν λόγῳ μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν δυνάμει καὶ ἐν Πνεύματι Ἁγίῳ καὶ ἐν πληροφορίᾳ πολλῇ60 (1:5).
Also it functioned as η τροφή61 - the milk to the newborn. With θάλπω (which originally means to
heat)62 possibly is implied the transmission especially of the Holy Spirit which in 5:19 is pictured as
fire63. At the same time just like a mother he longs his own children and can’t bear being apart from
them: So being affectionately desirous of you, we will to impart unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also
our own souls, because you were dear unto us (2:8). In the direct future he wants (εὐδοκεῖ) not only to

55 Comp. Ex. 34:6.


56 J. Chrysostom comments: Ὡς ἐὰν τροφὸς, φησὶ, θάλπῃ τὰ ἑαυτῆς τέκνα. Οὕτω δεῖ τὸν διδάσκαλον εἶναι. Μὴ ἡ τροφὸς
κολακεύει, ἵνα δόξης τύχῃ; μὴ χρήματα αἰτεῖ παρὰ τῶν παίδων τῶν μικρῶν; μὴ βαρεῖα αὐτοῖς ἐστι καὶ φορτική; οὐχὶ
μᾶλλον τῶν μητέρων εἰσὶ προσηνεῖς; Ἐνταῦθα τὴν φιλοστοργίαν δείκνυσιν (PG. 62.402). According to Gerber, die Phrase
ὡς ἐὰν τροφὸς θάλπῃ τὰ ἑαυτῆς τέκνα ist wörtlich bestens zu übersetzen: „wie eine Amme ihre leiblichen Kinder hegt". Der
Absender vergleicht sich mit einer Amme, die sich als Mutter um ihre leiblichen Kinder kümmert ohne dafür Geld zunehmen. Die
argumentative Valenz des Vergleichs liegt darin, den Unterhaltsverzicht der Missionare bei ihrem Aufenthalt in Thessalonica
durchsichtig zu machen auf die sich in ihm ausdrückende „mütterliche" Hingabe an die Gemeinde (Paulus und seine 'Kinder' 277).
From the metapher καὶ ὡς Δημοκράτης εἴκασεν τοὺς ῥήτορας ταῖς τίτθαις αἳ τὸ ψώμισμα καταπίνουσαι τῷ σιάλῳ τὰ
παιδία παραλείφουσιν (Arist., Rhet. 1407a.8-10) but also from the urging of the Pseudo-Plutarch to the mothers to feed
themselves their own babies (see next footnote), we conclude that the main characteristic of the behavior of the nurse to
the ‘other’ children was that they showed ὑποβολιμαίαν καὶ παρέγγραπτον εὔνοιαν. They problem also wasn’t only that
they became salary for their services, but didn’t show real love, which in contrast is the characteristic of Paul, who
continues with the phrase οὕτως ὁμειρόμενοι…
57
From the Patristic Lexicon of Lambe results that not only the rabbis but also the church Fathers avoid to characterize
themselves as τροφός.
58 Pseudo-Plutarch in Περί Παίδων Ἀγωγῆς notes: Περὶ δὲ τροφῆς ἐχόμενον ἂν εἴη λέγειν. δεῖ δέ, ὡς ἐγὼ ἂν φαίην, αὐτὰς

τὰς μητέρας τὰ τέκνα τρέφειν καὶ τούτοις τοὺς μαστοὺς ὑπέχειν· συμπαθέστερόν τε γὰρ θρέψουσι καὶ διὰ πλείονος
ἐπιμελείας, ὡς ἂν ἔνδοθεν καὶ τὸ δὴ λεγόμενον ἐξ ὀνύχων ἀγαπῶσαι τὰ τέκνα. αἱ τίτθαι δὲ καὶ αἱ τροφοὶ τὴν εὔνοιαν
ὑποβολιμαίαν καὶ παρέγγραπτον ἔχουσιν, ἅτε μισθοῦ φιλοῦσαι. δηλοῖ δὲ καὶ ἡ φύσις ὅτι δεῖ τὰς μητέρας ἃ
γεγεννήκασιν αὐτὰς τιτθεύειν καὶ τρέφειν· διὰ γὰρ τοῦτο παντὶ ζῴῳ τεκόντι τὴν ἐκ τοῦ γάλακτος τροφὴν ἐχορήγησε.
σοφὸν δ’ ἄρα καὶ ἡ πρόνοια· διττοὺς ἐνέθηκε ταῖς γυναιξὶ τοὺς μαστούς, ἵνα, κἂν εἰ δίδυμα τέκοιεν, διττὰς ἔχοιεν τὰς
τῆς τροφῆς πηγάς. χωρὶς δὲ τούτων εὐνούστεραι τοῖς τέκνοις γίγνοιντ’ ἂν καὶ φιλητικώτεραι. καὶ μὰ Δί’ οὐκ ἀπεικότως·
ἡ συντροφία γὰρ ὥσπερ ἐπιτόνιόν ἐστι τῆς εὐνοίας. καὶ γὰρ τὰ θηρία τῶν συντρεφομένων ἀποσπώμενα ταῦτα ποθοῦντα
φαίνεται. μάλιστα μὲν οὖν ὅπερ ἔφην αὐτὰς πειρατέον τὰ τέκνα τρέφειν τὰς μητέρας· εἰ δ’ ἄρ’ ἀδυνάτως ἔχοιεν ἢ διὰ
σώματος ἀσθένειαν (γένοιτο γὰρ ἄν τι καὶ τοιοῦτον) ἢ πρὸς ἑτέρων τέκνων σπεύδουσαι γένεσιν, ἀλλὰ τάς γε τίτθας καὶ
τροφοὺς οὐ τὰς τυχούσας ἀλλ’ ὡς ἔνι μάλιστα σπουδαίας δοκιμαστέον ἐστί. In the PLond 951 we read: τὸ βρέφος ἐχέτω
τροφόν. ἐγὼ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω τῇ θυγατρί μου θηλάζειν.
59
Paul as father/mother isn’t contrasted with other instructors in Christ as in 1Co 4:15; Gal. 4:19.
60 Perhaps the πληροφορία πολλή (!) is connnected with τοῦ ἔργου τῆς πίστεως καὶ τοῦ κόπου τῆς ἀγάπης καὶ τῆς

ὑπομονῆς τῆς ἐλπίδος τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν ( 1:3 ).
61 See Dt. 22:6: ἐὰν δὲ συναντήσῃς νοσσιᾷ ὀρνέων πρὸ προσώπου σου ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ἢ ἐπὶ παντὶ δένδρει ἢ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς νεοσσοῖς

ἢ ᾠοῖς καὶ ἡ μήτηρ θάλπῃ ἐπὶ τῶν νεοσσῶν ἢ ἐπὶ τῶν ᾠῶν οὐ λήμψῃ τὴν μητέρα μετὰ τῶν τέκνων.
62
About the modern translation of this verb in 2:7c see Gerber, Paulus und seine 'Kinder' 285 Anm. 142. See also her critic to
K.P. Dornfried (The Cults of Thessalonica and the Thessalonian Correspondence, NTS 31 (1985) 336-356) who relates this
verse with the cult of Dionysos and the Nyphs who functioned as nurses (p. 293).
63 θάλπω = to be or become warm (so it is used by Philo), to hatch, to cherish, comfort, consulate (Eph 5:29). According to

Babiniotis, Λεξικό 740 etymologically it is connected with the adj. θαλυκρός θερμός, φλέγων.

9
feed them with the Gospel but also to offer his psyche/existence64 which is a characteristic
particularly of the mother as Plutarch proves in his Περὶ τῆς εἰς τὰ ἔγγονα φιλοστοργίας (De amore
prolis)65. In this sense he differentiates himself absolutely from the itinerant philosophers and
functions κατ’ εικόνα of his Lord who died for us (5:10)66.

Based on what has been said, we interpret 2:7b-8 as follows: Ἀλλὰ ἐγενήθημεν ἤπιοι ἐν μέσῳ ὑμῶν
ὡς ἐὰν τροφὸς θάλπῃ τὰ ἑαυτῆς τέκνα. 8Οὕτως ὁμειρόμενοι ὑμῶν67, εὐδοκοῦμεν μεταδοῦναι ὑμῖν
οὐ μόνον τὸ Εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Θεοῦ ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰς ἑαυτῶν ψυχάς, διότι ἀγαπητοὶ ἡμῖν ἐγενήθητε68.-
But we were gentle and beneficent among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do
we care for you that we are determined to offer to you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves,
because you have become very dear to us.

The following two things are impressive: a) while past tenses dominate in this context, here the
present tense is used69. The οὕτως ὁμειρόμενοι ὑμῶν εὐδοκοῦμεν μεταδοῦναι is linguistish and
stylistish parallel to 2:17-18 which prefaces the second subunit (2:14-3:13) and describes the efforts of
Paul personally (2:18: ἐγὼ ὁ Παῦλος) to bridge the local gab between him and his audience from the
past to the present, expressing the wish to meet face to face with them in Thessaloniki in the near
future: ἡμεῖς δέ, ἀδελφοί, ἀπορφανισθέντες ἀφ᾽ ὑμῶν πρὸς καιρὸν ὥρας, προσώπῳ οὐ καρδίᾳ,
περισσοτέρως ἐσπουδάσαμεν τὸ πρόσωπον ὑμῶν ἰδεῖν ἐν πολλῇ ἐπιθυμίᾳ […] τίς γὰρ ἡμῶν ἐλπὶς ἢ χαρὰ ἢ
στέφανος καυχήσεως- ἢ οὐχὶ καὶ ὑμεῖς- ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῇ αὐτοῦ Παρουσία; Ὑμεῖς γάρ
ἐστε ἡ δόξα ἡμῶν καὶ ἡ χαρά (2:17.19-20; comp. Phil. 4:1)70. J. Chrysostom, who has studied rhetoric by
Libanius, doesn’t hesitate to characterize the language of Paul in this passage as erotic and maternal:
Ἐρώμενος γὰρ ἦν μανικός τις καὶ ἀκάθεκτος͵ καὶ ἀκαρτέρητος εἰς φιλίαν. «Διὸ ἠθελήσαμεν ἐλθεῖν πρὸς
ὑμᾶς». Ὅπερ ἐστὶν ἀγάπης. Καίτοι γε ἐνταῦθα οὐδεμίαν ἑτέραν χρείαν φησὶν͵ ἀλλ΄ ἵνα ἴδωμεν ὑμᾶς. […]
Τίς γάρ ἐστιν ἡμῖν͵ φησὶν͵ ἐλπὶς͵ ἢ χαρὰ͵ ἢ στέφανος καυχήσεως; Ἆρα ἐπιγινώσκετε τὰ ῥήματα γυναικῶν
ὄντα πάνυ διαθερμαινομένων τοῖς σπλάγχνοις͵ καὶ πρὸς παιδία μικρὰ διαλεγομένων; «Καὶ στέφανος͵
φησὶ͵ καυχήσεως». Οὐ γὰρ ἤρκει τὸ στέφανος ὄνομα δεῖξαι τὴν λαμπρότητα͵ ἀλλὰ προσέθηκε καὶ͵
«Καυχήσεως». Πόσης πυρώσεως τοῦτο; Οὐκ ἄν ποτε μήτηρ͵ οὐδὲ πατὴρ͵ εἴ γε ὁμοῦ συνῆλθον͵ καὶ τὸν
ἑαυτῶν ἀνεμίξαντο πόθον͵ ἠδυνήθησαν δεῖξαι ἰσόῤῥοπον ὄντα τῷ Παύλῳ τὸν ἑαυτῶν πόθον (PG.
62.409). That means that the expression of the maternal feelings of Paul isn’t limited in v. 7b-8 but it
is extended in v. 17-1871.
64
The διδόναι τὴν ψυχὴν is used in Sir.7:20 for the service of the slaves. See also Jos., Ant. 2.144 (to sustain our lives by
grain).
65 496.D-496E: ἀλλὰ τὸ φύσει φιλόστοργον ἔκαμπτε καὶ ἦγεν· ἔτι θερμὴ καὶ διαλγὴς καὶ κραδαινομένη τοῖς πόνοις οὐχ

ὑπερέβη τὸ νήπιον οὐδ΄ ἔφυγεν͵ ἀλλ΄ ἐπεστράφη καὶ προσεμειδίασε καὶ ἀνείλετο καὶ ἠσπάσατο͵ μηδὲν ἡδὺ καρπουμένη
μηδὲ χρήσιμον ἀλλ΄ ἐπιπόνως καὶ ταλαιπώρως ἀναδεχομένη͵ τῶν σπαργάνων ἐρειπίοις θάλπουσα καὶ ψήχουσα͵ καὶ
πόνῳ πόνον ἐκ νυκτὸς 0ὸν μεθ΄ ἡμέραν (Tr. adesp. 7). Comp. Παραμυθητικός 609F [6]: Τὰς δὲ πολλὰς ὁρῶμεν μητέρας,
ὅταν ὑπ’ ἄλλων τὰ παιδία καθαρθῇ καὶ γανωθῇ, καθάπερ παίγνια λαμβανούσας εἰς χεῖρας, εἶτ’ ἀποθανόντων
ἐκχεομένας εἰς κενὸν καὶ ἀχάριστον πένθος, οὐχ ὑπ’ εὐνοίας (εὐλόγιστον γὰρ εὔνοια καὶ καλόν), ἀλλὰ μικρῷ τῷ
φυσικῷ πάθει πολὺ συγκεραννύμενον τὸ πρὸς κενὴν δόξαν ἄγρια ποιεῖ καὶ μανικὰ καὶ δυσεξίλαστα <τὰ> πένθη.
66 It comes as a surprise that even at this point he does not refer to the Cross at all, the climax of sacrificing love. Is it

possible because it was an abomination for the enemies of the Thessalonians’ Church? Did he hesitate to link faith to
scandal in his first epistle? It is well known that in the future he will emphasize the significance of the Cross, mocking
human wisdom and logic with it.
67
For ὁμειρόμενοι (“ardently desiring”) a number of minuscules read the classical ἱμειρόμενοι, which has ths same
meaning. See Ps. 62:2 (Symm.) Job 3:21 (Lxx).
68 Ψ. Βyz.: γεγένησθε.

69 In some manuscripts the tense is ‘’corrected’’, that is turned back to past tense.

70 Ἐν πολλῇ ἐπιθυμίᾳ is synonym with ὁμειρόμενοι ὑμῶν.The phrase τίς γὰρ ἡμῶν ἐλπὶς ἢ χαρὰ ἢ στέφανος καυχήσεως-

[…] ὑμεῖς γάρ ἐστε ἡ δόξα ἡμῶν καὶ ἡ χαρά corresponds to διότι ἀγαπητοὶ ἡμῖν ἐγενήθητε. According to Plutarch
480.C.2-5 οὔτε γὰρ φιλόλογος πατὴρ οὕτως οὔτε φιλότιμος οὔτε φιλοχρήματος γέγονεν ὡς φιλότεκνος.
71
About the modern exegetes who consider that the Parents-Children metaphor continues in 2:17-20 see Gerber, Paulus
und seine 'Kinder' 314 Anm. 287.

10
b) The reason why Paul desires to impart his life to the Thessalonians is not because he has begotten
them through the gospel (1 Kor. 4:13) but because they have become very dear to the apostles. Using you
have become, he turns back to the most crucial moment in the past and stresses their (the
Thessalonian’s) contribution to his abundant sacrificing love. The beloved children of God became
Paul’s dear children, apparently by the way they responded to his preaching.

Finally in v. 10-12, where the ethos of the apostles is positively portrayed (that is without the
negative pronouns of 2:3), Paul presents himself not as a mother who is responsible particularly for
the first years of the human existence but as a father72 who undertakes according to Plutarch’s De
amore prolis the ἀνατροφή (= upbriging)73: You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly (referring to
faith in God) and justly (referring to the relationship with other people) and blamelessly (refers to the
way they conducted) we behaved ourselves among you who believe; 11as you know how we (i) exhorted, and
(ii) comforted, and (iii) charged every one of you (παρακαλοῦντες ὑμᾶς καὶ παραμυθούμενοι καὶ
μαρτυρόμενοι), as a father does his own children, 12that you would walk worthy of God who calls you
into His own kingdom and glory74. According to Gerber the ethical exhortation of the children was a Jewish
custom par excellence75. I believe that the instruction was as well a custom for the Greek low classes
(to which belong the recipients of the epistle) who didn’t have the financial opportunity (the tyche
according to Pseudo-Plutarch, Περί Παίδων Ἀγωγῆς 8e) to employ a paidagogos. According to
Burke in this verse Paul is employing a metaphor of unambiguous superiority76. The meaning however of
a metaphor is also given from the context: Paul focuses here on his personal relationship with each
one of his receivers while he emphasizes that his exhortation and encouragement didn’t aim to his
own glory but that is worthy of God’s call to His Kingdom-Imperium and His Kabod/Glory77. The
verb παρακαλοῦντες ὑμᾶς in combination with καὶ παραμυθούμενοι (which in 5:14 refers to
ὀλιγοψύχους) 78, which are used also in the paraenetic section of 1Thes.79 (and by this verse the
audience is prepared for this), don’t declare the superiority (as it happens with παραγγέλομεν 2
Thes. 3:6) but according to Chrysostom the ἄτυφον of the apostle80 and his love and his care for
people who need consolation before the coming of the Οργή and instruction how they must
72
He has already done so by stating himself as an example to them in 1:6.
73
See Gerber, Paulus und seine 'Kinder' 307.
74 καθάπερ οἴδατε, ὡς ἕνα ἕκαστον ὑμῶν ὡς πατὴρ τέκνα ἑαυτοῦ παρακαλοῦντες ὑμᾶς καὶ παραμυθούμενοι καὶ

μαρτυρόμενοι εἰς τὸ περιπατεῖν ὑμᾶς ἀξίως τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ καλοῦντος ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ βασιλείαν καὶ δόξαν.
75
Paulus und seine 'Kinder' 304.
76
A Socio-Historical Study of Kinship Metaphors in 1 Thessalonians 67.
77J. Chrysostomus comments: Ἀνωτέρω τὸ τῆς ἀναστροφῆς εἰπῶν, ἐνταῦθα τὸ τῆς ἀγάπης φησίν· ὃ καὶ μᾶλλον ἦν ἢ τῆς

προστασίας. Καὶ τοῦ ἀτύφου τὸ εἰρημένον (PG 62.407). See also Hesychius Lexicogr., Lexicon (Π—Ω). (A.D. 5/6)
(894.) π α ρ η γ ο ρ ε ῖ · παρακαλεῖ, παραμυθεῖ(ται). Lexicon Vindobonense, (A.D. 14) παρακαλῶ ἀντὶ τοῦ καθικετεύω.
Λ ι β ά ν ι ο ς · καὶ Μενέλεως παρακαλῶν ἀπῆλθεν ἄπρακτος. καὶ ἀλλαχοῦ ὁ α ὐ τ ό ς · τὸ μὲν πρῶτον παρεκάλουν
αὐτὴν τίκτειν ἡσυχῆ. καὶ παρακαλῶ ἀντὶ τοῦ καθέλκω. Λ ο υ κ ι α ν ό ς · παρακαλοῦμαί σε τραύματος εἰς Ἄρειον πάγον.
καὶ Ε ὐ ρ ι π ί δ η ς · παρακαλεῖ δ’ ἐκεῖθεν αὖ λύπη τις ἄλλη. καὶ παρακαλῶ τὸ παραμυθοῦμαι.
78 Together with μαρτυρόμενοι they build a climactic trias. Μαρτυρόμενοι is used to underline the fact that the Kerygma

which rescues us from the coming wrath is not a simple consolation but it has the characteristics of μαρτυρία- certification.
79 Λοιπὸν οὖν, ἀδελφοί, ἐρωτῶμεν ὑμᾶς καὶ παρακαλοῦμεν ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ, ἵνα καθὼς παρελάβετε παρ᾽ ἡμῶν τὸ πῶς δεῖ

ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν καὶ ἀρέσκειν θεῷ, καθὼς καὶ περιπατεῖτε, ἵνα περισσεύητε μᾶλλον. (4:1) 4Παρακαλοῦμεν δὲ ὑμᾶς,
ἀδελφοί, νουθετεῖτε τοὺς ἀτάκτους, παραμυθεῖσθε τοὺς ὀλιγοψύχους, ἀντέχεσθε τῶν ἀσθενῶν, μακροθυμεῖτε πρὸς
πάντας. (5:14). See the comments of the Fathers to this vers: Ἐνταῦθα πρὸς τοὺς ἄρχοντας διαλέγεται· μὴ ἀπ’ ἐξουσίας,
φησὶ, μηδὲ αὐθαδείας ἐπιπλήττετε, ἀλλὰ μετὰ νουθεσίας· ὁ γὰρ αὐστηρὸς καὶ ἀπεγνωκὼς ἑαυτὸν, θρασύτερος γίνεται
καταφρονῶν καὶ ἐπιπληττόμενος· διὰ τοῦτο τῇ νουθεσίᾳ χρὴ ἡδὺ κατασκευάζειν τὸ φάρμακον. Catena in epistulam i ad
Thessalonicenses (typus Parisinus) (e cod. Coislin. 204).
PG. 62.406.6-407.9: Ανωτέρω τὸ τῆς ἀναστροφῆς εἰπῶν͵ ἐνταῦθα τὸ τῆς ἀγάπης φησίν· ὃ καὶ μᾶλλον ἦν ἢ τῆς
80

προστασίας. Καὶ τοῦ ἀτύφου τὸ εἰρημένον. «Ὡς πατὴρ τέκνα ἑαυτοῦ..». Ὅτε εἶπε͵ «Καὶ διαμαρτυρόμενοι»͵ τότε πατέρων
μέμνηται͵ δεικνὺς ὅτι Εἰ καὶ διεμαρτυρόμεθα͵ ἀλλὰ τοῦτο οὐ σφοδρῶς͵ ἀλλ΄ ὡς πατέρες.

11
περιπατεῖν and ἁγιάζειν themselves so as to be eternally with Kyrios in his own Kingdom (5:14).
We have also seen that the maternal element dominates in the the periscopes which frame this vers.

It is clear that in the passage of 1 Thes. dominant is the authority of God while in the second the one
of the sender. Paul’s word in 1Thes.2 was not accepted because the receivers have recognized in the
word of Paul the logos of God who in the passage 2:1-13 is mentioned 12 times!: Καὶ διὰ τοῦτο καὶ
ἡμεῖς εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ Θεῷ ἀδιαλείπτως, ὅτι παραλαβόντες λόγον ἀκοῆς παρ᾽ ἡμῶν τοῦ Θεοῦ
ἐδέξασθε οὐ λόγον ἀνθρώπων ἀλλὰ καθώς ἐστιν ἀληθῶς λόγον Θεοῦ, ὃς καὶ ἐνεργεῖται ἐν ὑμῖν
τοῖς πιστεύουσιν (2:13). Note that at the beginning of the exhortation the apostle will remark: οἴδατε
γὰρ τίνας παραγγελίας ἐδώκαμεν ὑμῖν διὰ τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ (4:2) […] τοιγαροῦν ὁ ἀθετῶν οὐκ
ἄνθρωπον ἀθετεῖ ἀλλὰ τὸν Θεὸν τὸν [καὶ] διδόντα τὸ Πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ τὸ Ἅγιον εἰς ὑμᾶς (4:8).81

We conclude that the image of the mother/nurse and her beneficency-love (which stand in the core
of the chiasmus in 2:1-12 but also in the prologue of the section 2:13-3:13) is called upon to show that
Paul and his own assistants constantly yearn to impart the Thessalonians their own lives (and not
only verbal admonitions), while the image of the father is used especially for the personal teaching
in the past and comforting facing the Parousia of Jesus. Both express the opposite of seeking glory
and profit and simultaneously the unique ethos of Paul and his Paraclese which aims at being
sanctified entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (5:23).

3. Paul’s intimacy with the audience in Context


Here we will show how Paul presents himself as father in 1 Thess. context: Α. The author does not
accompany his name neither with ἀπόστολος-apostle nor with δοῦλος-servant. Apparently he wants
them to feel comfortable with him (through avoiding the agitation that accompanies heavy duty
titles) and his close attendants that accompanied him in his first travel to the West. He experiences
the same afflictions with them and in the epilogue he requests for their prayers (5:25). At this point
paradoxically are lacking the personal greetings of Paul and his associates.
Β. He and his companions address τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ Θεσσαλονικέων ἐν Θεῷ Πατρὶ καὶ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ
Χριστῷ χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη82. God is called Father83 and Jesus Christ, the Lord perhaps in
opposition to Zeus and the emperor (τὸν πατέρα πατρίδος καὶ κύριο. Res Gestae Divi Augusti 37).

81 He is not referred to as Father while the following imitation does not refer to Paul but the churches in Judea.
82 In 2:14 he speaks of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. Luke simply calls them Έλληνες/Ελληνίδες-
Greeks (Act. 18:4)
83 According to F. Graf (Zeus DDD 934-936) the Homeric and later epithet pater is closely paralleled by Roman Iu-piter and Indian

Dyaus pitar: his role as father must be already IE, not in a theogonical or anthropogonical sense (regardless of the frequent epic formula
"Zeus, falher of men and gods"), but as the Homeric variant Zeus anax, "Lord Zeus", proves, as having (he power of a father in a
patriarchal system. This role, which implies unrestricted power as well as its control by father-like benignity, continues as the
fundamental role of Zeus in all antiquity and finds expression also in the standard iconography of a bearded but powerful man (934).
In the biblical tradition in spite of the popularity of the epithet 'Father' in personal names, the epithet is not common in the texts.
God can be addressed as 'My/Our Father' (Jer 3:4.19; Isa 63:16; 64:7[8]| and can be characterized as a father/creator, with Israel as his
son/children (Exod 4:22; Deut 14:1; 32:6.18; Hos 2:1 [1:10]; 11:1; Isa 1:2; 45:10-12; Jer 31:9; Mai 1:6; 2:10; cf. Mum 11:12; Ps
68:6[5]). Another illustration is Jeremiah's accusation that some people address a piece of wood with "You are my father", or a bit of
stone with "You gave birth to me" (Jer 2:27), using language that should be reserved for God only. In the texts, God is also identified
as 'like a father' (Ps 103:13; Prov 3:12), and, in keeping with the parental model, even as a -mother (Isa 42:14; 45:10; 49:15; 66:13),
but various other metaphors are more frequently used. As ‘father', the emphasis is on God as protective and compassionate, Israel was
reluctant to describe God as a physical father, except in an ultimate sense. In particular, God is described as father of the Davidic king
(2 Sam 7:14; 1 Chr 28:6; Pss 2:7: 89:27-28(26-27); Isa 9:5[6|), who in turn may have the title 'Eternal Father' (Isa 9:5(6]). The em-
phasis, however, is on sonship via adoption: "This day have I given birth to you" (Ps 2:7). […] In the NT the conception remains
basically the same, but with well over 200 occurrences—more than 120 in the Johannine corpus alone—the epithet 'Falher' virtually
explodes in popularity. While remaining primarily an epithet, 'Father' is also used in direct address to God. The use of this title in the
Aramaic-speaking circles of the early Christian community is retained in the double invocation "Abba. Father" in a Gethsemane
prayer by Jesus (Mark 14:36) and in the Spirit cry, cited by Paul (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6).See H.B. Huffmon, Father, DDD 236-238.
12
The living and true God (1:9) is Father par excellence because he has Son who has died for us (5:10)
but God has raised him from the dead (1:10). As it is underlined in the Praise which introduces and
concludes the first part of the epistle (1:3; 3:13), God is Father of all the Christians (ἡμῶν) so as Jesus
is the Lord of us, because of the election84. Furthermore he has a special relationship with Paul and
the other apostles of Jesus Christ (3:11) who are called συνεργoὶ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ τοῦ
Χριστοῦ (3:2) since they have been approved and are tested (2:8)85. This God will rescue us who
await patiently His Second Coming from the coming wrath (1:10). All the believers, the beloved of this
Father, who have been orphans away from their compatriots and their families (2:14-17), although they are
likely coming from the lower classes of the society, constitute the Ecclesia of the Thessalonians (1:1)
with a different πολίτευμα from the equivalent politico-religious institution in the same city86. They
are Ecclesia in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ which (phrase) Paul does not typically use for
the opening of an epistle87. This (in…) could be linked to the church (1:1b) but also to Grace to you88
and peace-shalom89. The Christians of Thessaloniki (who are not called in this epistle saints)
constitute a Church, like the Hebrew Qahal and the Greek Ecclesia, because of the two Divine
Personae’s initiative (εκλογή v.4. Κλήση v. 12b) to offer Grace (forgiveness of sins-amnestie) and Peace,
one of different quality from that of Pax Romana whose peace is fragile and susceptible to an end as
he proclaims in 5:1. Ἐν-in could not only mean the medium, but also the place where the Church is
existing and functioning as an entity-a family (comp. 2:14), especially since Paul already
experiences being in the presence of God through prayer (1:3; 3:9). Through the final coming of
Jesus and the raising of the dead, all Christian will be always σὺν Kυρίῳ (4:17; 5:9-10: ὅτι οὐκ ἔθετο
ἡμᾶς ὁ Θεὸς εἰς ὀργὴν ἀλλὰ εἰς περιποίησιν σωτηρίας διὰ τοῦ Kυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ
ἀποθανόντος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, ἵνα εἴτε γρηγορῶμεν εἴτε καθεύδωμεν ἅμα σὺν αὐτῷ ζήσωμεν). For this
reason we must care for our sanctification (4:3) διότι ἔκδικος Kύριος (4:6).
C. At the introductory Praise, the part that responds to Grace and covers three chapters90, the words
always and without ceasing about the eucharist (thanksgiving) refer to all the holy brethren in the
church91 and this is emphasized in the epilogue too: Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. I charge you
by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren92 (5:27). What is also obvious is Paul’s aim to

84 1:3-4: ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν, εἰδότες, ἀδελφοὶ ἠγαπημένοι ὑπὸ [τοῦ] Θεοῦ, τὴν ἐκλογὴν ὑμῶν. They
exercise the three virtues (faith, love, hope) with work, labor and patience (1: 3). Of course given that Paul refers to what is
lacking in their faith (3:10) while he devotes a whole section of the epistle’s exhortating part to brotherly love (4: 9.10), one
might say that what is said in 1 Thess.1:3 is used within a captatio benevolaentiae framework.
85 καθὼς δεδοκιμάσμεθα ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ πιστευθῆναι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, οὕτως λαλοῦμεν, οὐχ ὡς ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκοντες

ἀλλὰ θεῷ τῷ δοκιμάζοντι τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν (2:4)


86 They aren’t a voluntary association (a thiasos of one God or a collegiums) with cultic, professional or funeral purposes.
87
Comp. 2:14: ὑμεῖς γὰρ μιμηταὶ ἐγενήθητε, ἀδελφοί, τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν τοῦ Θεοῦ τῶν οὐσῶν ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ ἐν Χριστῷ
Ἰησοῦ; 1Co 1:2-3: τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ […] Χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ Θεοῦ Πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ
Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.
88 Ιnstead of the usual Hebrew ἔλεος-mercy (Gal. 6: 16) and χαίρειν-Greetings (James 1: 1). The two last elements (grace and

peace) are usually found in other epistles as coming from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 5:28: Ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου
ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ μεθ᾽ ὑμῶν.
89
The same problem does exist in 1 Thes. with καθὼς οἴδατε οἷοι ἐγενήθημεν [ἐν] ὑμῖν δι᾽ ὑμᾶς (1:5c) which can be read
with the previous but also the following vers.According to Aristoteles ὅλως δὲ δεῖ εὐανάγνωστον εἶναι τὸ γεγραμμένον
καὶ εὔφραστον· ἔστιν δὲ τὸ αὐτό· ὅπερ οἱ πολλοὶ σύνδεσμοι οὐκ ἔχουσιν͵ οὐδ΄ ἃ μὴ ῥᾴδιον διαστίξαι͵ ὥσπερ τὰ
Ἡρακλείτου. τὰ γὰρ Ἡρακλείτου διαστίξαι ἔργον διὰ τὸ ἄδηλον εἶναι ποτέρῳ πρόσκειται͵ τῷ ὕστερον ἢ τῷ πρότερον͵
οἷον ἐν τῇ ἀρχῇ αὐτῇ τοῦ συγγράμματος (1407b16). Comp. Byz.: Χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ Θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ
κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.
90 Comp. 5: 17: ἀδιαλείπτως προσεύχεσθε/ ἐν παντὶ εὐχαριστεῖτε.

91 1:2: Εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ Θεῷ πάντοτε περὶ πάντων ὑμῶν.

92 Reidar Aasgaard, ‘My Beloved Brothers and Sisters’. Christian Siblingship in Paul. T&T Clark International. London-New

York 2004. Ph. Harland, Familial Dimensions of Group Identity: ‘Brothers’ (ΑΔΕΛΦΟΙ) in Associations of the Greek East,
Journal of Biblical Literature 124 (2005) 491-513. -“Familial Dimensions of Group Identity (II): ‘Mothers’ and ‘Fathers’ in
Associations and Synagogues of the Greek World,” Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman
Period 38 (2007) 57-79. http://www.philipharland.com/publications.html.

13
maintain the feeling of connection between ἡμεῖς-we and all the ὑμεῖς-you by and large. For now
this connection is accomplished through the mention in prayer, the Thessalonians and their work of
faith, labor of love, and patience of hope (1:2.3)93.
D. In this frame, Paul, who in v. 2:18 through ἐγώ distinguishes himself from his associates, devotes
the second half of the first part of his epistle to underline his attempts from the past to present to
maintain personal - bodily communion with the Thessalonians. Satan94 however blocked his way.
Μηκέτι στέγων (< στέγω = no longer endure it [= the fact that he had not communion with the Thess.]95) as
he states twice, he did not hesitate to be left alone, sending his brother, Timothy96. Paul considers the
return of Timothy who brings news of the faith and love of the Thessalonians as well as the fact that
they remember and long to see him, as a Gospel: But now that Timothy has now come to us from you,
and brought us good news of your i) faith and ii) love, and that iii) you always have good remembrance of us,
greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you (3:6). These good news that Timothy brings soothes Paul
and gives him life. At the end of the first part of his epistle, Paul continues to wish: now may our God
and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you (3:11) so that three goals may be
accomplished: a) restoring whatever is lacking in their faith, b) the increase and abound in love for
one another and for all c) the establishing of their hearts blameless in holiness before our God and
Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints (3: 12.13). Given what is said apart from the
faith in God it is also the faith-trust (fides) in Paul that is being verified because, among others, his
prophecies are fulfilled.
E. In the second part of the Epistle (ch. 4-5) it is clear that Paul wants to differentiate the Church
(whose members are the sons of light and sons of the day-5:4.5) through its ethos-ethic from the others
who have no hope (4:13) and those who sleep and get drunk at night (5: 6.7). They are the Έθνη who do not
know God and live with lustful passion (4:5), destined for wrath and not to obtain salvation through our
Lord Jesus Christ (5:9). All church members are brothers who make up a family-community that is
different from the Gentile Ecclesia which worships Caesar as Lord and Father of the empire and the
world. The Church of Jesus Christ is brought together through i) recognition (for) those who labor
among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, ii) be(ing) at peace among yourselves, warn(ing)
those who are unruly, comfort(ing) the fainthearted, uphold(ing) the weak and iii) be(ing) patient with all
(5:12-14). This Koinonia will be perfected in the future, for we will always be with the Lord.

It is clear of the aforementioned that particularly in the first section of his oldest epistle, Paul
underlines the vertical communion of the audience, their relationship with the Living/True God who
is Father to his Son who died for us (5: 10) and was resurrected from the dead. He comes back and
save us from the coming wrath. Yet the Father is a father to us all. In fact he calls them beloved by God
and brothers. That is very important for an audience which had been ostracized from their family
and social circle because of their faith in Jesus. Apart from having a new Father they have a new
Lord, not Caesar but Jesus Christ who was also persecuted and died for us. It is His Coming that
will change-save the world and that is the Christian hope. Meanwhile he tries to strengthen the
horizontal bond between him and his audience because, as the epilogical vers 3:12-13 indicates, this
love functions as model in the relations of the members of the Church and as the main factor εἰς τὸ
στηρίξαι ὑμῶν τὰς καρδίας ἀμέμπτους ἐν ἁγιωσύνῃ ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ Πατρὸς ἡμῶν ἐν τῇ
Παρουσίᾳ τοῦ Kυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ μετὰ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων αὐτοῦ.

93 At closure he will ask of them: Brethren, pray for us (5:25).


94 Satan seems to act as a dividing agent in general, not only in Paul’s case.
95 στέγω= 1. < (s)teg- cover, pass over in silence (1 Cor 13:7), 2. bear, stand, endure (1 Cor 9:12; perh. 13:7).

96 3:2-3.

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4. The reasons for the Paul’s intimacy
In his next letters to the Churches, where he faces enemies inside the Ecclesia, Paul will demonstrate
himself particularly as pater familiae. The example of 1 Cor. where Paul tells that he fed the
Corinthians with milk and not with solid food as to carnal, as to babes in Christ (3:14) is quite
distinctive. At the end of the epistle’s first part (ch. 1-4), Paul separates himself from the instructors
in Christ and instead projects the image of the father (also as an invitation for imitation) threatening
them with the rod. In this context Timothy is also mentioned and is presented as beloved (the
Corinthians too) and faithful: 14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children
I warn you. 15For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have
many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, to
imitate me.17For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord,
who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church. 18 Now some are puffed up,
as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will
know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20For the kingdom of God is not in
word but in power. 21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of
gentleness? (1 Cor. 4:10-21).

In the Epistle to Galatians, which is according to Dunn97 also written from Corinth during his first
visit, Paul uses the strong language of the advising father. Only after he forcefully accuses them as
fools for falling prey to Judeo-Christian false brothers, he says: My little children, for whom I am again
in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20 I wish I were present with you now and could
change my tone, for I am perplexed about you (Gal 4:18-20)98.

While in every other epistle Paul presents himself as pater familias, it is in 1 Thess. that a loving
mother ready to share her life and yearning for contact in person is being projected. We have seen
that the fact that motherly love surpasses fatherly harshness can be verified through viewing 1
Thess. and 2 Thess. in parallel since in the later Paul acts rather fatherly dealing with problems
inside of the Church.

Motherly elements are being shown in his private letter to Philemon. Self presented as aged (since he
was probably near his life’s end) Paul writes a warmhearted letter to Philemon for he believes that
Onesimus has become a child of his during his imprisonment: yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to
you—being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ— 10I appeal to you
for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains,11 who once was unprofitable to you,
but now is profitable to you and to me 12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own
heart, 13whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the
gospel.

Why Paul shows such intimacy in the 1 Thes.? From what has been said and from the Data of the
Acts (despite the fact that the book was written about 30 years later), we draw the following
conclusions:
1. The book of Acts shows that during his stay in the city of Athens (17:18-33) Paul felt strongly
the hands of loneliness upon him and the disappointment of the rejection of the Stoics and
the Epicourians although he had adjusted his word and his strategy to the city’s mental

97J.D.G. Dunn, Beginnings from Jerusalem, Michigan: Eedermans 2009, 720.


98According to Joh. Chrysostomus (Comm. Titum) the ethos of Paul in this epistle is erotic: Εἰ δὲ καὶ ὁλόκληρον τὸ ἔθνος
ὑβρίζει͵ μὴ θαυμάσῃς· καὶ ἐπὶ Γαλατῶν γὰρ αὐτὸ ποιεῖ͵ λέγων· Ὢ ἀνόητοι Γαλάται. Οὐχ ὑβριστικοῦ δὲ τοῦτο ἤθους͵
ἀλλ΄ ἐρωτικοῦ. (PG. 62.664). About the criterion of familiarity see K.I. Belezos, Χρυσόστομος και Απόστολος Παύλος.
Χρονολογική Ταξινόμηση Επιστολών και χρυσοστομική Ερμηνεία. Athens 2008, 38. 130-131.

15
climate. When he arrived in Corinth he confessed that he came in weakness, in fear, and in
much trembling (1 Cor.2:3). Luke marks that Paul was filled by the Spirit by the return of his
associates from Thessaloniki: After Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was
compelled by the Spirit (Acts 18:5). In I Thes. 3:7-8 he points out: διὰ τοῦτο παρεκλήθημεν,
ἀδελφοί, ἐφ᾽ ὑμῖν ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ ἀνάγκῃ καὶ θλίψει ἡμῶν διὰ τῆς ὑμῶν πίστεως ὅτι νῦν
ζῶμεν ἐὰν ὑμεῖς στήκετε ἐν Kυρίῳ. The faith (fides) of the Thessalonians towards Paul, his
message and the way it was expressed, confirmed that Paul’s preaching was not in vein but
had πληροφορία πολλή. This had consequences for his self estimation since it must have
rejuvenated Paul who bursts out in thanksgiving which is common in Psalter after a trial.
Moreover it must have given him the feeling of spiritual fatherhood and motherhood forging
special bonds of friendship. With this psychology he lashes out on (i) the supposedly Greek
philosophers (who appeared themselves as doctors of souls) and (ii) intensely on his
compatriots, adopting the usual anti-Semitic views of the Greco-roman world, since in
Corinth according to Acts he experienced a sundering with the Synagogue (18:4-6). The joy
of the apostle was even more because the Thessalonians church with its position was of great
importance for the distribution of his preaching since the city not only stood in the midst of
via Egnatia, the road that united the West with the East but the city also linked the North
with the South. By this way the Gospel is preached to every part of the empire, a main
presupposition for the coming of the Parousia (Rom. 10:18=Ps.19:4; Mk. 13:10; Mt.24:14): ἀφ᾽
ὑμῶν γὰρ ἐξήχηται ὁ λόγος τοῦ Κυρίου οὐ μόνον ἐν τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ καὶ [ἐν τῇ] Ἀχαΐᾳ, ἀλλ᾽ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ ἡ
πίστις ὑμῶν ἡ πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν ἐξελήλυθεν, ὥστε μὴ χρείαν ἔχειν ἡμᾶς λαλεῖν τι (1:8).
2. The Thessalonian church faces sorrows (θλίψεις), which come from outsiders and not from
insiders as it will happen in the other epistles (Judeanchristians or ‘wise’). The receivers of
the epistle are excommunicated from their family-social circle which in the graecoroman
pyramid was the most important institution after the religion. So, as underlines Gerber99, in
the frame of the alternative Ecclesia where it is experienced the principle of the reverse/
inverted pyramid (Mk.10:42-45) they need to feel love/tenderly care and not an authority
which impose his own will. Paul had to conduct according to the image of God the Father
and the Lord who was persecuted and dies for us. On the other hand some of the outsiders
enemies obviously compared Paul with the itinerant philosophers who through traveling
and initating authorities of the past gained gold and glamour from their preaching taking
advantage of the hopes and fears of the people. For these reasons Paul, who during his days
as a rabbi he must have been called father and teacher (Mt. 23:10)100, let his carefully cultivated
father figure not to be distorted into the image of a patriarch101 even when he faces the
problem of πορνεία. Yet we have seen from the very beginning he does not accompany his
name with servant or apostle of Jesus. He speaks in plural form, not using I, while in the
epilogue of the epistle he does not refer to any important members of the church. He admits
to the worthiness of his audience and rejuvenates their self esteem using you know repeatedly
and the well known captatio benevolaentiae of 1:3 but also saying to them that you have no
need so that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another (4:9). The
audience themselves have become an example for all the world, as Paul and his associates
have become for them (1:6-7). All in all the imitation process revolves around the living and
true God, who is called Father and Jesus the Lord who has died for us: And you became
followers of us and of the Lord (1:6). Timothy is not characterized as his child but as their brother
and minister of God (3:2). Τhat an ostracized people of God doesn’t need a new patriarch but a
loving family is also seen in the last book of N.T., the Gospel of John where the authority of
99
Paulus und seine 'Kinder' 338-343.
100 Apparently these three names were quite loved by the Pharisees of the time.
101 As the problem of fornication is dealt with rather harshly in various Judaic texts (see Testaments of the XII Patr.), one

could expect Paul to project the similar guiding authority of the father.
16
Peter is called in question. Van der Watt has proved in his Family of the King: dynamics of
metaphor in the Gospel according to John (Leiden 2000) how the metaphor of family (with the
elements of love, knowing each other, solicitude, protection) is the constitutive and the most
essential imagery in a Gospel which is addressed to Christians expelled from the Synagogue
and their families (John 9. 16).
3. Paul’s feelings of paternal love and the unique bond he shares with the Thessalonians could
be understood according to the fact that they were the firstborn among his children in Christ
like the first chosen (by the Apostle himself) associate Timothy who is called his child in 1
Cor. (4:17). We should also remember that according to Acts (16:6-8) before Paul’s transition
to Macedonia, the Holy Spirit had averted him from preaching in certain parts of Asia Minor
and he had already crossed something like 600 miles without any impressive success. We
also should not forget that during his visit in Philippi, the first stop he made in European
ground, very few believed his word and most of those few were women. Yet with his
repeated visits to the city, this Little Rome (probably with Luke‘s aid who is connected to city
of Philippi), he managed to form the Church that would later receive the epistle which is also
characterized as a loving-tender one102. Paul however doesn’t characterize the recipients as
ἀπαρχή in his first epistle as it happens in 2 Thes. 2:13103. So this fact is doubtful.
4. On the contrary, Paul seems to be feeling heavily upon him that the coming of the Lord is at
hand unlike the false prophets of Pax Romana (see Virgil, IV Ecloge) which in various ways
advertised Roma as aeterna and its system as the bearer of peace and security (5:3; comp.
Rev. 13). In the light of the Coming of the resurrected Jesus, Paul, who was entrusted to
preach to the Gentiles (Gal. 1:16), wants to present all the Christians who returned by his
είσοδος not only ἀμέμπτους ἐν ἁγιωσύνῃ (3:13)/ ὁλοτελεῖς but also united as a family. So he
wants that his letter be read to all the brothers, even those who might not want to really
listen. He also invites everybody to kiss each other although he is not giving his own 104 and
in addition he neglects to mention anyone of the προϊσταμένους in particular. Through
φιλαδελφία (whose visual sign was ἀσπασμός) and the public reading of his epistle which
maybe substitutes his holy kiss, they will experience the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Note
that it was the coming Caesar that was greeted in a triumphant manner by the crowned
members of the local Ecclesia (Greek) often accompanied by the whole house (oikos) or
school105. In this frame Paul asks: τίς γὰρ ἡμῶν ἐλπὶς ἢ χαρὰ ἢ στέφανος καυχήσεως- ἢ οὐχὶ
καὶ ὑμεῖς- ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῇ αὐτοῦ Παρουσίᾳ; (2:19). Maybe Paul also
wanted to shout with Isaiah (8:18): Here am I and the children whom the Lord has given me!106
5. Because of the sentiment that the coming of the Lord is at hand, the epistle itself pictures an
apocalyptic and also dualistic way of thought which also requires a powerful family bond
so that the battle of the sons of light against the Temper-Satan and his organs can be
fought107. Characteristic of this apocalyptic way of thought is the coexistence in chap. 2 of
passages where it is expressed the extreme love of Paul for his own children with other

102 J. Karavidopoulos, Αποστόλου Παύλου Επιστολές προς Εφεσίους, Φιλιππησίους, Κολοσσαείς, Φιλήμονα. Thessaloniki
1981, 244.
103 Ἡμεῖς δὲ ὀφείλομεν εὐχαριστεῖν τῷ Θεῷ πάντοτε περὶ ὑμῶν, ἀδελφοὶ ἠγαπημένοι ὑπὸ Κυρίου, ὅτι εἵλατο ὑμᾶς ὁ

Θεὸς ἀπαρχὴν εἰς σωτηρίαν ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματος καὶ πίστει ἀληθείας.


104 The fact that all Christians regardless of ethnicity, gender or status are all brothers sealed with a ritual kiss at the end of

the epistle’s hearing (probably before the Eucharist where they experienced the union in one body), was a crucial element
setting them apart from the other religious parties and Judaism where the term brother also appears but not nearly as
vividly as in the Christian Church.
105
H.S. Versnel, Triumphus: An Inquiry into the Origin, Development and meaning of the Roman Triumph, Leiden: Brill 1970.
106 In the next epistles it feels that the Coming delays, his Churches must be organized and he must defend himself against

the false brothers/ tutors. So he appears himself as an authoritative pater familiae.


107 The main prayer of the Christian community, the one that sets it apart from the Synagogue, begins with the word Father

and ends with lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil (Matt 6:13; Luk 11:4).

17
where he expresses his extreme wrath for his compatriots who persecute him108. In this
apocalyptic frame Paul aches to make the ostracized Thessalonians understand that they are
really his beloved ones. He is also deeply concerned about the sanctification especially of the
bodies, an issue which he directly links with the brothers and sisters since πορνεία
(fornication and adultery) means taking advantage and defrauding one another. Based on
archaeological evidence109 the cults of Dionysus and Cabeirus (both worshiped with orgy
ceremonies) were quite famous in Thessaloniki at the time. The Thessalonians had returned
from the false gods to the one true God and this action probably cost them dearly on their
immediate and professional environments110. The risk of returning again to their old habits of
sin must have been present daily since their isolation of their environment could be
“unbearable”. To outweigh the traditional abuse of the sexual instinct and the passions of the
flesh, Paul feels that he has not only to preach i) the sanctification through abstaining from
πορνεία and ii) loving one another (something most crucial in order to escape the coming
wrath), but also to be bodily near to them, feeling in any case his love/koinonia in practice.
Note that (1) at the epilogue 3:12-13 τὸ στηρίξαι ὑμῶν τὰς καρδίας ἀμέμπτους ἐν ἁγιωσύνῃ
ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Θεοῦ (who is named as Πατὴρ ἡμῶν) depends on ὑμᾶς δὲ ὁ Κύριος
πλεονάσαι καὶ περισσεύσαι τῇ ἀγάπῃ εἰς ἀλλήλους καὶ εἰς πάντας καθάπερ καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς
ὑμᾶς (2) the exhortation against πορνεία is escorted by the parainesis about the φιλαδελφία.
Paul knoes that sexual abuses and the Hagiasmos especially of the body (which in second
section attracts his concern) can not be faced with prohibitions but when his brothers and
sisters feel really beloved by a maternal way in the frame of their new family. This is why (i)
the apostle desires and prays without ceasing to have face to face communication with them
and (ii) he presents himself not only as father who teaches with his word and example, but
also as the mother who actually when ἀπορφανίζεται, ὁμείρεται to see her children to
transmit them her life. This intimacy and this familiarity will be perfect by the Parousia. This
fact for the others means wrath, for the Christians however that they will be altogether (dead
and live), ὁλοτελεῖς (with body laso) eternally σὺν Κυρίῳ as Paul four times stresses in ch. 4-
5 (4:14.17; 5:10). This fact differentiates the Pauline eschatology from the other and this must
be foreshowed in the Ecclesia which lives Ἐν Θεῷ Πατρὶ καὶ Κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ.

108
The second subunit of the first part of I Thes. starts with the contrast 14 ὑμεῖς γὰρ μιμηταὶ ἐγενήθητε, ἀδελφοί, τῶν
ἐκκλησιῶν τοῦ θεοῦ τῶν οὐσῶν ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, ὅτι τὰ αὐτὰ ἐπάθετε καὶ ὑμεῖς ὑπὸ τῶν ἰδίων
συμφυλετῶν καθὼς καὶ αὐτοὶ ὑπὸ τῶν Ἰουδαίων […] ἔφθασεν δὲ ἐπ᾽ αὐτοὺς ἡ ὀργὴ εἰς τέλος. ἡμεῖς δέ, ἀδελφοί,
ἀπορφανισθέντες ἀφ᾽ ὑμῶν πρὸς καιρὸν ὥρας (2: 13-17). Jesus Himself used the image of the mourning nurse in light of
Jerusalem’s desolation: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I
wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! (Lk. 13:34).
109 See Christoph von Brocke, Thessaloniki – Stadt des Kassander und Gemeinde des Paulus. Eine frühe christliche Gemeinde in

ihrer heidnischen Umwelt, WUNT 2- 125; Tübingen 2001. Christopher Steimle, Religion im römischen Thessaloniki, (Studien u.
Texte zu Antike und Christentum 47), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2008.
110 With the exception of Musonius Rufus (XII.1-5), the other moralists thought of fornication as not a shameful act.

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Bibliography

Burke, T.J., Family Matters: A Socio-Historical Study of Kinship Metaphors in 1 Thessalonians


(JSNTSup 247) London: Sheffield Academic Press 2003.

- Paul's Role as 'Father' to his Corinthian 'Children' in Socio-Historical Context (1 Cor. 4:14-21).
Paul and the Corinthians: Studies on a Community in Conflict. Essays in Honour of Margaret Thrall.
Supplements to Novum Testamentum, (ed. Trevor J. Burke and J. Keith Elliott). Leiden: Brill
Academic Publishers 2003 95-113.

Caragounis, Chrys, Did Paul Behave as an Infant or Imbecile, or as a Gentle Nurse?


http://www.chrys-caragounis.com/Studies/Did%20Paul%20Behave.pdf (01.08.2014)

Galanis, J., Η Πρώτη Επιστολή του Απ. Παύλου προς Θεσσαλονικείς, Thessaloniki 1996.

Gerber, Christine, Paulus und seine 'Kinder'. Studien zur Beziehungsmetaphorik der paulinischen Briefe
(Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft - BZNW 1360) Berlin-New York:
Walter de Gruyter 2005.

Summary (Translation by: Nikolaos Georgantonis)

In the most ancient document of Christianity, in a highly patriarchal society, Paul addressing
Gentile Christians did not hesitate to liken himself not only to the father, but also to the woman /
nurse as she cares for her own children. He didn’t only preach, but in contrast to the itinerant
philosophers had such mildness / beneficent and love for them to offer his soul / existence. The
metaphor of the mother relates among other things with the admonition to avoid prostitution and
the koinonia of all during and after the Last Judgement.

In the oldest document of Christianity, P. speaking to Christians of all nations, does not
stop, in a upmost Patriarchal society, to try to assimilate himself with the woman - nurse,
like the way she nurtures and cares for her own children. He does not simply preach, but
unlike the wandering philosophers, he has such calmness, compassion and love for them in
which he gives his soul, his being. Simultaneously, he is a father, since with his example
and sayings, he teaches everyone, individually, to stay away from iniquity and prays
unceasingly. The presentation of the sender as a mother and father of the recipients,
brothers of the newborn Church of Thessaloniki, relates to the call to stay away from
harlotry and that everybody will coexist during and after the Second Coming of our Lord.

Words-Keys

beneficent nurse, intimacy, benevolence, metapher

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